Criminal Defense Attorney - Property Crimes
To successfully defend against criminal charges in St. Johns County you need a St. Augustine criminal defense attorney with courtroom experience. Attorney Christy Opsahl is a former prosecutor with extensive trial experience. She handles a variety of criminal offenses including misdemeanors, felonies, and juvenile delinquency.
Ms. Opsahl has experience handling cases with a variety of sentencing enhancements, such as Habitual Felony Offender (HFO), Habitual Violent Felony Offender (HVFO), Violent Career Criminals, 10-20-Life, and Prison Releasee Reoffenders (PRR).
Property crimes are criminal offenses relating to the damage or taking of personal property. These include vandalism/criminal mischief, trespass, burglary, and theft. Property crimes can range from misdemeanor offenses to felony offenses punishable by life in prison. A conviction for a property crime can have a devastating effect on your life. Many property crimes are considered crimes of dishonesty and can affect your ability to get a job, participate in organizations or activities, and your overall reputation.
The value of damage, the value of the property taken, use of a weapon, type of property, whether the property was occupied, whether an assault or battery occurred, presence of injury, and prior convictions can all enhance the severity of the charge. Property crimes often involve restitution to reimburse the victim(s) as part of a sentence. It is important to understand that the will of a victim does not determine whether you are prosecuted. The State of Florida brings criminal charges against a defendant and can pursue prosecution with or without the consent of the victim. Both the criminally accused and victims of crimes have constitutional rights afforded them by the State of Florida. It is important that criminal defendants and victims of crimes understand their respective rights as well as each other’s rights.
If you are arrested for a property crime, the court may impose restrictions before you are even convicted. These are pre-trial restrictions such as no contact with the victim, not going within a certain radius of the victim or the property in question, wearing a GPS monitor, and/or complying with alcohol or drug tests. It is crucial that you contact an attorney as soon as possible after an arrest to advise you on your restrictions and whether any of the pre-trial restrictions may be modified or removed. Failure to comply could result in your bail being revoked and remaining in jail until your case is resolved.
Whether you are a first time offender or have a lengthy criminal record, an experienced attorney can help you navigate the criminal court process for your individual needs. Diversion programs can result in charges being dismissed to avoid a criminal record. An attorney can attempt to negotiate a withhold of adjudication that can reduce the restriction of your constitutional rights such as voting or owning a firearm. It is important to consult an attorney to determine if you qualify for a diversion or a withhold of adjudication. This could also impact whether you are eligible for your record to be expunged in the future.
A conviction for a property crime can result in a wide range of penalties depending on the severity of the charge and your criminal record. The outcome can be anything from outright dismissal of charges, completion of a diversion program and dismissal of charges, fines, probation, rehabilitation, jail, or prison up to life in prison. The sufficiency of the evidence and individual facts of each case will greatly impact your disposition. It is important to hire a local attorney who knows how the individual state attorney’s office handles these offenses to be able to adequately negotiate the outcome or effectively take the case to trial.
Property crimes often involve circumstantial evidence that needs to be examined by an experienced trial attorney. There are unique legal principles that apply to cases in which the sole evidence is circumstantial. Property crime investigations often involve technical forensic evidence. DNA evidence, fingerprint collection and analysis, search warrants, cell phone records, cell tower location data, GPS location data, and forensic computer analysis are all examples of the type of evidence that may be utilized by law enforcement when investigating property crimes. Hire a trial attorney with experience in all of these areas to advise you on the strengths and weaknesses in the State’s case against you.
Christy has experience on both sides of the law as a former prosecutor and defense attorney to guide you through the risks and rewards of plea negotiations, motion practice, and taking your case to trial. Property crimes have unique legal and factual issues that need to be analyzed by an attorney familiar with these investigations, forensic evidence, constitutional issues, discovery, and with jury trial experience in this area of law.