Criminal Defense and DUI Attorneys in Tampa
The criminal defense lawyers at Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, Florida, aggressively defend clients charged with felony, misdemeanor, and DUI crimes. Located in downtown Tampa, our offices are just a few blocks from the courthouse. Our offices have been at the same location since 2008.
We welcome your calls to discuss your case. Call 813-250-0500 for an appointment to speak with an attorney either in the office or over the phone.
Many clients are referred to us from other attorneys throughout the State of Florida. We also rely on referrals from previous clients. We work hard to earn our reputation as passionate, experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyers. Our attorneys take a scholarly approach to litigating pre-trial motions while fighting for the best result. We also pride ourselves on being thoroughly prepared for motion hearings and jury trials.
Call to schedule a free and confidential consultation either over the phone or in the office. During the initial consultation, we can discuss the facts of the case and what you might need to do right now to protect your rights. Learn more about potential defenses and the attorney fees required for legal representation.
Our office hours are 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday. If you need assistance after normal business hours, on a weekend or holiday, our phones are answered 24/7. We are also available for consultations in the office after normal business hours when needed.
Attorneys Focused Exclusively on Criminal Defense
The four attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm, Jason D. Sammis, Leslie M. Sammis, Matt A. Menendez and Amanda F. Brunson, focus exclusively on criminal defense. That focus allows us to stay up to date on innovative defenses that win cases and recent changes in criminal laws and procedures.
We work with our clients to address all aspects of the case including the direct and indirect consequences of a criminal accusation. If you have been wrongly accused of a crime, then the best result is getting all charges dropped by the prosecutor or dismissed by the trial court. Depending on how the case is resolved, you may be able to seal or expunge any record of the arrest or prosecution so that it disappears from the public view.
Extraordinary results require extraordinary efforts at each stage of the case. We work with seasoned private investigators and the most highly qualified expert witnesses while still maintaining reasonable attorney fees. Many of our clients have no prior criminal record and never imagined being on the wrong side of the law. The stakes are even higher for certain professionals who are charged with a crime including:
- teachers and certified educators;
- health-care professionals including physicians and nurses;
- members of the military; and
- law enforcement officers.
For many professionals in the private sector, their employment contract requires them to notify their employer of the arrest or prosecution. Other professions have reporting requirements to professional boards. Any public employee of a city, county or state employer participating in the Florida Retirement System (FRS) can face an action to forfeit their retirement benefits if they are accused of a specified criminal act or enter a plea of guilty or no contest even if the court withholds adjudication.
Even college students can face immediate collateral consequences after an arrest including a possible disciplinary hearing that could lead to expulsion from college. We represent college students at the University of South Florida (USF), the University of Tampa (UT), and other area colleges after an allegation of a student conduct violation that occurred either on campus or off campus.
In juvenile court, we also represent middle school and high school students during an expulsion or "change of placement" hearing. For people with a Commercial Driver License (CDL), concealed weapon permit or who require special security clearances for their employment, the consequences of the arrest can impact their current job and future career opportunities.
When the stakes are high, seek out the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm who takes a full-service approach. We are focused on fighting criminal accusations in the Tampa Bay area.
The Importance of Filing Pre-trial Motions
The law is constantly changing and evolving. We take a scholarly approach to fighting the case. The best way to fight the case involves filing and litigating all viable pre-trial motions including:
- motions to exclude irrelevant or prejudicial evidence;
- motions to suppress evidence illegally obtained;
- motions to dismiss because of the statute of limitations; or
- motions to dismiss the criminal charges for insufficient evidence.
Good things happen when attorneys file and litigate pre-file motions. Even if the court doesn't ultimately grant the motion, the defense attorney can often gain valuable information about the prosecutor's case that can be used to win the case at trial or negotiate a better pre-trial settlement before trial.
In some cases, the attorney can convince the prosecutor to drop the charges completely ("nolle prosse" or "nol prosse") because of the pending motion to suppress, the victim waivers, insufficient evidence, a witness is unavailable, or for other reasons.
Never Talk to a Law Enforcement Officer About a Criminal Accusation
If approached by a law enforcement officer who suspects you of criminal wrongdoing, then you can invoke your right to remain silent by saying: "I am invoking my right to remain silent under the 5th and 6th amendment. I would like to speak to my attorney before I say anything." Then remain silent. At trial, the jury is not told that you invoked your right to remain silent and the fact that you remained silent cannot be used against you.
After a lawful detention, if the officer asks your name, date of birth or address you can provide that information even if you have already invoked your right to remain silent, but you are not required to answer any other types of questions.
When you hire an attorney, the attorney will immediately inform the law enforcement officer that you have invoked your rights under the 5th and 6th amendments thereby preventing the officer from asking you any questions. Hiring an attorney to deal with law enforcement might discourage the officers from coming to your home or work in an attempt to interrogate you about the criminal accusations.
If you decide to speak to law enforcement about the facts of your case without an attorney being present, then you are waiving your Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and your Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Don't waive important constitutional rights until AFTER you have spoken to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney is often in the best position to explain your side of the story to the law enforcement officer.
In the event the officer does intend to make an arrest, your attorney can help you surrender under terms that may speed up your release, keep you safe, and save you money. We can contact the prosecutor to discuss lowering the bond amount. We also handle other important details of the case that might minimize the embarrassment, stress, and expense that might otherwise accompany the arrest.
Effective Pre-File Negotiations in the Tampa Bay Area
If you have been arrested on a felony charge by officers with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, the Tampa Police Department, or the Florida Highway Patrol, but not yet formally charged then, we work quickly to present all mitigating factors and exculpatory evidence to the prosecutor. The prosecutors with the State Attorney's Office in Tampa, FL, and the surrounding areas have the discretion to decline to prosecute a case even after an arrest. An attorney can present favorable evidence to the prosecutor on your behalf during the first few days or weeks after the arrest. During the pre-file stages of the case, your attorney will often talk with the prosecutor about reasons not to file any formal charges or only file reduced charges.
The prosecutors with the State Attorney's Office in Tampa, FL, and the surrounding areas have the discretion to decline to prosecute a case even after an arrest. An attorney can present favorable evidence to the prosecutor on your behalf during the first few days or weeks after the arrest. During the pre-file stages of the case, your attorney will often talk with the prosecutor about reasons not to file any formal charges or only file reduced charges.
In felony cases, the prosecutors with the State Attorney's Offices typically make a filing decision within 21 (twenty-one) days after the arrest, so you must act quickly to preserve all avenues of attack. In a felony case, if you are not formally charged within 21 days, then you are entitled to an adversary preliminary hearing if the proper motion is filed. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer quickly after an accusation or arrest remains one of the most effective ways to defend yourself against an unjust prosecution.
DUI Defense Attorneys in Tampa, FL
The DUI defense attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm are focused on fighting drunk driving cases in Tampa, Plant City, and the surrounding areas throughout the greater Tampa Bay area. Learn more about the innovative ways that we fight charges for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Keep in mind that after a DUI arrest, you only have ten (10) days to demand a formal review hearing. Demanding the formal review hearing is the only way to contest the administrative suspension of your driver's license. Otherwise, that notation will stay on your driving record for the next 75 years.
In almost all of our DUI cases, we demand a "formal review hearing" to contest the administrative suspension with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). In those cases, we also help our client obtain a 42-day hardship permit so that they can continue driving while we fight the suspension.
We tell our clients NOT to stipulate to the suspension by seeking immediate hardship reinstatement at the "waiver hearing" but to let us demand a "formal review hearing" instead.
For many people with a first DUI arrest, waiving the formal review hearing by requesting the "waiver review hearing" is not in the person's best interest. Important decisions must be made within the first ten (10) days after your arrest. We can help you understand the benefits of demanding the formal review hearing.
We represent clients charged with either taking the breath test and blowing over .08 or refusing to take the breath test on the Intoxilyzer 8000. Recent DUI statistics show that nearly half of the breath tests in Florida involve a breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 or above. A DUI with a BAC over .15 comes with the potential for enhanced penalties such as a requirement that you install the dreaded ignition interlock device.
We also represent clients charged with driving under the influence after submitting to a urine or blood test. Whether your case involves an accident with DUI property damage or a stop in a sobriety checkpoint, we have the experience necessary to fight the charges. If you have a prior DUI conviction, then call us to see how those prior convictions might impact the maximum and minimum penalties for a second DUI. Even an out of state DUI from a long time ago can impact the current case.
We are familiar with many of the tactics used by DUI enforcement officers with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, Tampa Police Department, Plant City Police Department, Temple Terrace Police Department, the Florida Highway Patrol and other local law enforcement agencies.
Helping Out of State Clients Charged with a Crime
If you were arrested for a misdemeanor charge such as driving under the influence (DUI), possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, domestic battery, petit theft or shoplifting after visiting the Tampa Bay area, then call us to discuss legal defenses that might apply to your case. Your criminal defense attorney may be able to resolve your case without the need for you to return to Florida.
If you are charged with a felony offense, the court may allow you to waive your appearance at many, if not all, of your pre-trial court dates. For clients who live out of state, it is important to avoid costly and unnecessary trips to court while aggressively fighting the charges.
Many people call us after finding out about a Florida arrest warrant for failure to appear, a direct file, or a criminal investigation. We help you understand your rights, protect your freedom, and aggressively defend you against the criminal charge. We also represent clients facing extradition on a fugitive warrant to or from the State of Florida.
Finding a Criminal Defense Attorney in Tampa, FL
We understand that your livelihood, liberty, and good name are on the line after an accusation of criminal wrongdoing. Contact the Sammis Law Firm, P.A. for a free immediate consultation over the phone or in the office. By focusing exclusively on criminal defense in the Tampa Bay area, we represent clients for criminal offenses charged in state court.
We also represent clients on traffic tickets and violation infractions in Tampa, Hillsborough County Ordinance Violations, and municipal ordinance violations can be issued by the City of Plant City, the City of Tampa, and the City of Temple Terrace.
The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm are active in the legal community. Attorneys in the firm are proud members of the following organizations:
- National College for DUI Defense (NCDD);
- DUI Defense Lawyers Association (DUIDLA):
- National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law (NORML);
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL);
- Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (FACDL);
- Hillsborough County Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (HCACDL); and
- Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers (HAWL).
These non-profit legal organizations provide continuing legal education (CLE) seminars, networking opportunities with other attorneys fighting similar battles, and opportunities to help shape important legal reforms.
Call 813-250-0500 to speak directly with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, Florida. Let us put our experience to work for you.
This article was last updated by Jason D. Sammis on Monday, July 31, 2017.