Downtown Tampa




Pre-Arrest Investigation and Arrest


Pre-Arrest Investigation


Experience has shown that far too many people believe that a criminal case, and the need for representation, start at (or just after) the arrest.  LHJ LAW believes that a case begins at the investigative phase, and not the arrest.  Being proactive is better than being reactive.


Whenever, and however, law enforcement begins a criminal investigation, the instant an individual is contacted, that individual should consider the possibility that he or she is, or may become, a prime suspect. A person should not assume that the table will not turn on him or her because he or she is a victim or only a potential witness. At this stage, an attorney can be used to advise a client and/or communicate with law enforcement. The use of an attorney provides an individual with the means to protect his or her interests while engaging law enforcement.


If a person fears, or is told, that he or she is a suspect, LHJ LAW believes that obtaining representation is the better part of valor. An attorney can intercede for the client and speak with law enforcement and/or the prosecutor’s office to make them aware of the client’s position and potentially affect the decision-making process for the benefit of the client.

Minor Offenses:

For certain minor offenses, law enforcement has the option to take the individual to jail or to issue a Citation or a Notice to Appear. A Notice to Appear is a written form Order issued to an accused in lieu of physical arrest. It requires the individual to appear in a designated court or governmental office at a specified date and time.


In instances where a complaint is for a misdemeanor offense where a trial-court judge reasonably believes the person against whom the complaint was made will appear, the court may issue a summons instead of a warrant for arrest. A summons must state the nature of the offense and shall command the person to appear before the judge at a stated date, time and place.

All Other Offenses:

Law enforcement has the authority to arrest with or without an arrest warrant. Attorneys should always question whether there was a legal basis for an arrest. The validity of the warrant should also be questioned. If the arrest and/or the arrest warrant was not legally valid, a challenge by a legal motion should be filed. Evidence obtained as a result of an invalid arrest can potentially be excluded. Any incriminating evidence that is excluded from a trial will benefit the accused.

Right of Person Arrested to Consult Attorney:

A person who is arrested is allowed to consult with any attorney entitled to practice in this state. They are permitted to meet in private at the place of custody, as often and for such periods of time as are reasonable.

First Appearance:

Every arrested person must be taken before a judicial officer, either in person or by electronic audiovisual device at the discretion of the court, within 24 hours of arrest.

Pretrial Release and Detention:

Unless charged with a capital offense or an offense punishable by life imprisonment, and the proof of guilt is evident or the presumption is great, every person charged with a crime or violation of municipal or county ordinance is entitled to pretrial release on reasonable conditions.  If no conditions of release can reasonably protect the community from risk of physical harm, assure the presence of the accused at trial, or assure the integrity of the judicial process, the accused may be detained.  There is no rule, however, that prevents an accused from asking for a bond even if the accused is charged with a capital offense or an offense punishable by life imprisonment, and the proof of guilt is evident or the presumption is great.