Clearwater criminal defense attorneys are often asked about the ability of their clients to speak with the judge one-on-one or in the form of a letter. Ultimately, this is one of the more common questions asked to Clearwater criminal defense attorneys. Many individuals believe, given the opportunity, that if they are able to explain their case and circumstances to the judge, the case will simply be dropped or they will receive a reduced sentence. This is obviously incorrect for at least two (2) different reasons.
First, the judge simply does not decide a sentence for individuals in a criminal case. The Florida Sentencing Guidelines impose specific sentences in felony cases. The overwhelming majority of judges will also rely on the State Attorney’s office for input and guidance as to a potential sentence in a misdemeanor case. Additionally, many cases implicate minimum mandatory sentences, including driving under the influence, specific drug offenses, etc. Thus, as to the potential sentence, speaking to the judge will have very little impact on a potential sentence. Our Clearwater criminal defense attorneys will consider whether it is in your best interest to make such a statement during a sentencing hearing.
Secondly, and arguably far more important, anything one says in a criminal court will almost certainly be used against them by the State Attorney’s Office in the future prosecution of the case. There is absolutely nothing a criminal defendant can tell a judge that would help them in front of a jury. For example, many individuals want to explain the discrepancies in the police report to the judge. This often includes statements such as, “They said the gun was between my feet, The gun was under my seat” or “It wasn’t spice, it was marijuana” or “I didn’t hit him twice, I only hit him once.” While these statements may appear to minimize one’s fault or criminal liability, they are ultimately admissions to criminal charges, which any Assistant State Attorney would use in the future prosecution of the accused. Clearwater criminal defense attorneys will generally recommend folks refrain from making such statements.
We strongly recommend individuals charged with crimes avoid making any sort of public statement as it can only hurt their potential case for a jury. While individuals are certainly aware of their right to remain silent when interrogated by law enforcement, many are not aware they can and should remain silent when they are in open court. There are few feelings or disappointments as significant and damaging for any Clearwater criminal defense attorneys as when they learn their client has made statements similar to those mentioned above in a prior court appearance prior to their representation. These statements have significant negative impacts on one’s ability to defend themself at a future criminal jury trial.
Imagine the scenario, you and your attorney have built a strong defense for your case, subpoenaed the appropriate witnesses, admitted the proper exhibits, only to hear your very own voice at arraignment attempting to explain away the case and minimize the evidence against you at your trial. In our overwhelming trial experience, few pieces of evidence have as much impact on a jury as the defendant’s very own words. As you can imagine, a defendant’s words attempting to minimize their alleged involvement in a case will have a significant impact on a jury.
If you or someone you know has questions about speaking to a judge in a criminal case, contact the Clearwater criminal defense attorneys of Hackworth Law, P.A. for a free case consultation. We look forward to assisting you in your criminal defense matter. We have handled thousands of criminal case throughout the Tampa Bay Area. If you would like to contact one of our Clearwater criminal defense attorneys immediately, please use either the “contact us now” tab in the upper right hand corner of our website or our free chatbox located in the lower left hand corner of our website. We look forward to working with you and hearing from you.