You’ve Been Arrested –
Now What?


Being arrested is frightening and potentially life changing – but remember, it is only the initial decision law enforcement authorities who will make your case and often without sufficient knowledge of all the pertinent information necessary to properly evaluate the case against you. The decisions you make at the time of the initial arrest can often have a crucial effect upon how your case is ultimately resolved.

Attorney Robert Heyman has practiced criminal law in the Tampa Bay area for 29 years as both a prosecutor in Pinellas County and as a criminal defense attorney. As a result of that experience, he offers the following basic rules should you be arrested or become the subject of a criminal investigation.

1.Make NO statements without an attorney present. The time to explain yourself is not on the side of the road in handcuffs or in a cramped and isolated interrogation room at the police department. Fear and isolation often cause people to say whatever they think may help them out of a stressful situation, often at the prodding and/or encouragement of an overzealous police interrogator. There are very few instances where you will be able to talk your way out of an arrest. The more probable situation is that you will make statements in haste and confusion which will strengthen the case against you and often times cannot be explained away later. Instead, contact us to have an attorney by your side right away.

2. ALWAYS request an attorney prior to any questioning. It may be in your best interests to make a statement to the police and/or prosecutor once the initial shock of the arrest has subsided. On numerous occasions I have produced his client to answer questions which has resulted in charges being reduced or dropped altogether. The difference is that the interview takes place at the offices of the Heyman Law Firm in St. Petersburg where the client is comfortable and can ask for advice at any time or decide to cease the questioning.

3. Begin the Defense Investigation IMMEDIATELY. Fifteen years as a prosecutor taught attorney Robert Heyman that some issues need to be investigated and evidence gathered immediately or else they may be significantly compromised or lost. Crime scene evidence can be overlooked or not properly preserved; witnesses need to be interviewed before they can get their stories “straight” with other witnesses who may be biased against the client.

4. DISCOVERY materials received from the Prosecutor need to be carefully examined. Under the Florida Rules of Discovery, the prosecutor is required to produce all police reports, witness names and addresses, tangible evidence and forensic experts’ reports to the criminal defense attorney to permit a thorough preparation of the defense case. Depositions of witnesses arethereafter taken, and the testing of physical evidence (such as hair, blood, fingerprints, DNA, etc) is reviewed and sometimes re-examined by forensic experts hired by the Heyman Law Firm.

5. PRETRIAL MOTIONS may be filed. These motions are most often filed to request that the Trial Judge either limit or suppress evidence ( and prohibit its further use in the case ) or dismiss or reduce the charge(s) filed by the State. Attorney Robert Heyman has both filed and defended against these pretrial motions on hundreds of occasions in his career as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney in Pinellas County and other jurisdictions throughout Florida. Successful pretrial motions can often cause a prosecution to be dismissed by the State or to convince the prosecutor to negotiate with the Heyman Law Firm to favorably resolve what was previously a serious felony or misdemeanor charge against the client in a manner that has little or no effect on the client’s family, employment or criminal record.

6. PRETRIAL NEGOTIATIONS. There may be times when the risk and expense of going to trial may not be in the client’s best interests. On those occasions, Attorney Robert Heyman, at the direction of his client, may engage in plea discussions with the State or the Judge in order to obtain as favorable an outcome as possible prior to trial. These discussions may occur informally between Attorney Heyman and the prosecutor or in open court at one or more pretrial conferences before the Trial judge. In felony cases, Florida law has instituted a “sentencing guidelines” system which determines the range of possible sentencing options the Trial judge may have. At the Heyman Law Firm we will calculate the client’s guidelines recommendation and explain the alternatives which may be presented to the judge on their behalf.

7. TRIAL. While the decision should not be made lightly, there are some cases which can only be resolved by proceeding to a jury trial. Attorney Robert Heyman has extensive jury trial experience and in his career has personally tried in excess of 100 trials, ranging from DUI to Capital Murder. You should be aware that a number of criminal defense attorneys simply do not choose to represent clients at trial, and must refer the client to another attorney should the client steadfastly wish to exercise their right to a jury trial. At the Heyman Law Firm, we will always explain the pros and cons of demanding a jury trial, but if the client is resolute to do so, Robert Heyman will personally handle the trial.

8. APPEAL. The appeal process is usually instituted following two events which adversely affect the client.

First, if the Trial judge denies a pretrial motion addressing the admissibility of evidence or a motion to dismiss, the client may wish to enter a no contest plea to the charge and file an appeal of the judge’s ruling.

Secondly, if the client proceeds to trial and is convicted of any offense, they can appeal based upon any errors the Trial judge may have made during the course of the trial. Attorney Robert Heyman has handled numerous appeals as both a prosecutor and as a criminal defense attorney, in cases that he has personally tried and in cases which have been referred to him after having been handled by other attorneys.

The criminal legal process can appear daunting and overwhelming to clients who suddenly find themselves faced with decisions which can adversely affect their families, future employment and their very freedom. When faced with those decisions, Attorney Robert Heyman at the Heyman Law Firm, PA has the range of experience to provide clients with a clear understanding of their legal rights and remedies and the courtroom experience to protect those rights through trial if necessary.

We’re available for a no-cost consultation concerning your legal rights at the Heyman Law Firm offices located in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. Mr. Heyman can also meet potential clients at a mutually convenient location should their pending criminal case be located outside the greater Tampa Bay area.