How much does it cost?
Every firm client is charged a fee as well as expenses associated with the case. At Swartz Law Firm, most clients are charged according to a set fee structure, but there are occasions when our fees are negotiated.
Swartz Law Firm does accept all major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, and American Express) and a variety of payment arrangements are considered.
Why don't you take every kind of criminal case?
Over the course of our careers, we have established a level of expertise in a certain kind of case as trial lawyers. We think it's best to focus upon those types of cases, rather than be a "jack of all trades." That is why we take cases involving serious crimes – white collar crimes, death penalty cases, violent crimes, etc. that have a high likelihood of going to trial.
There are many good Florida lawyers out there who do a great job representing individuals in matters dealing with DUI/DWI, misdemeanors, and the like. We're happy to refer you to two or three of these professionals so you can choose one for those kinds of cases.
How fast can this all be over with?
That all depends upon the case, and what the federal prosecutor or state district attorney has in his or her file on you. Once the police have completed their investigation and reported to the government's attorney (prosecutor for federal cases, district attorney for state), there's a lot of consideration given on how strong their case is under the law as well as with the evidence they've accumulated.
They don't want to have the case thrown out, and they've got to decide not only how likely it will be that they can get a conviction, but what is the best charge to fit what they've got in hand.
Sometimes, the best thing from their perspective is to offer a plea deal. If you agree to their plea, then their job is done: you take the plea agreement and they go on to their next case. Taking the plea may or may not be in the defendant's best interests, however. Many times, the offer of a plea is a hint that there is a weak case and if the case goes to the jury with a good criminal defense lawyer, the government will lose.
Of course, going through the process to a full trial takes longer. Taking a plea agreement is faster. Getting the government to dismiss the charges outright is even faster – if the criminal defense attorney has the right facts to fight with.
At Swartz Law Firm, we want you free and on your way as soon as possible – but we don't want you to take a deal that isn't best for you. We love to try cases (we're good at it!) and yet we know that our clients don't feel that way about the courtroom. Going to trial can be terrifying for the defendant and his loved ones.
Bottom line, we fight with our clients for the best result they can get in their particular circumstance, and sometimes the fastest way out isn't the best solution. Every case is unique.
When Is the Death Penalty Imposed?
First, capital punishment, or the death penalty, is not available in every state. Only 37 states, and the federal government, provide for execution as a punishment for violation of the law.
Florida does allow for the death penalty, and is second only to Texas in the number of defendants executed by law each year. (The other three in the top five are Oklahoma, Virginia, and Missouri.)
Second, under federal law and state law, the death penalty is only available for certain, specific crimes. Certain types of murder carry the death penalty in Florida, for example, as does treason under federal law.
Third, before the death penalty can be imposed upon a defendant, the jury must "meaningfully consider" mitigating and aggravating factors in the case, to decide whether or not death is an appropriate punishment in the case. These factors include not only the circumstances surrounding the crime, but the defendant's background, character, age, mental health, and physical/mental development.
Children cannot be executed in this country. Defendants that have certain physical disabilities cannot be executed, either.
Therefore, before the death penalty can be imposed, the defendant must be found guilty of a crime for which that punishment is available. After that, circumstances that balance between judgment and mercy must be weighed by the jury and the judge before death will be decided.