Criminal Defense Lawyer

Mike Panella understands that being accused of a criminal offense is a devastating, and life-altering event. He recognizes that your matter is serious, and important, and approaches each case with diligence, compassion, and drive.

Every case is unique, and the Panella Law Firm will examine all aspects to determine the best strategy for you. Sometimes, the state’s case against you may be substantially weakened, or dismissed altogether, through pre-trial preparation. For Mike Panella, this means thoroughly examining every aspect of police conduct and the state’s evidence to determine if it is subject to attack through pre-trial motion practice. This may include filing motions to suppress, motions to dismiss, or other pretrial motions aimed at illegal or improper conduct by state actors, or the insufficiency of the evidence. Pre-trial preparation also means investigation into the persons, places, and things surrounding the alleged criminal conduct. This is accomplished, in part, through speaking with witnesses, surveying crime scenes, and gathering additional evidence the state may not have. This strategy tends to have a drastic effect on violent crime cases that involve self-defense, as well as Domestic Violence matters and serious assault and battery charges.

Every case must be evaluated for the legal “nuances” that each factual scenario presents. These issues must be mastered to have an effective strategy to prevail at trial. If your case requires a trial, Panella Law Firm is ready to fight all the way to the end.

Whatever you are charged with, from petit theft to homicide, the Panella Law Firm is ready to address your matter with dedication as if your life depends on it. Because, in many ways, it does.

A note on self-defense: Murder, attempted murder, and manslaughter charges are amongst the most serious criminal offenses a person can face. Mr. Panella has dedicated much of his career to dealing with these cases, and is well versed in issues of self-defense, “stand your ground,” and other legal defenses arising out of these events. Mr. Panella has been a guest law school lecturer on Florida’s Justifiable Use of Force laws, and was a member of the small defense team in the nationally recognized State v. George Zimmerman case. If you think you may be entitled to this defense, call the Panella Law Firm to discuss your case.

Driving Under the Influence - Orlando DUI Lawyer

DUI is one of the most destructive charges a person can face, and yet is one of the most common causes of arrest in Florida. DUI is also unique in that many of the people charged with this crime are first time offenders, who did not recognize their actions constituted a criminal offense. In fact, in Florida, you can receive a DUI even if you are not driving a vehicle. This phenomenon is defined as “actual physical control,” meaning that an officer can arrest you if your “normal faculties” are impaired while you are in a position to render a vehicle readily operable.

Even simple DUI carries enhanced statutory penalties that distinguish this offense from other misdemeanors. Some of the penalties may include: jail time, probation, heavy fines, driver license suspension, ignition interlock, substance evaluation classes and follow up treatment, and other sanctions.

DUI law in Florida is also complex, as the offense is “enhanceable,” meaning the charge becomes progressively more serious if you have had a DUI in the past. Beyond that, if someone is injured or killed as a result of your case, you will likely face felony DUI charges, which carry significantly more serious penalties.

There are many defenses to the charge of Driving Under the Influence. If you have been arrested for any level of DUI, it is imperative that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Call Panella Law Firm now to discuss your case.

Criminal Appeals -- Orlando Appellate Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been convicted at trial, and you feel that something in the trial was unfair, or you did not receive adequate legal representation, there may still be hope. It may be possible to appeal your conviction to a higher court for review of the legal decisions made in your case. In some cases, this may lead to a new trial, a reversal of your conviction, or other relief.

Sometimes, despite everyone’s best efforts, mistakes are made during the trial. It’s possible that a good judge may have made a bad evidentiary call. Perhaps crucial evidence to your defense was improperly excluded, or evidence that should not have been permitted at trial was heard by the jury. Some other potential reasons for an appeal include discovery of new evidence that could not have been discovered with due diligence at the time of your trial, juror tampering, recanted witness statements, or inadequate attorneys.

There are several types of appeals in Florida. “Extraordinary Writs” can in certain circumstances be filed with a higher court to review decisions of a lower court prior to the final resolution of a case. A direct appeal is generally your first appeal after a conviction at trial. Finally, a post- conviction appeal may be able to attack matters collateral to evidentiary rulings at trial such as “ineffective assistance of counsel” claims.

You must act fast. There are strict time limits that apply to appealing your case. In many cases you have 30 days from the date of the court’s order you are appealing, or the verdict at trial. If you are considering an appeal, call Panella Law Firm now to begin the process and preserve your rights.

Habitual Traffic Offender and Driver License Issues

In Florida, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is authorized to suspend, or even revoke your license due to certain traffic offenses. Many times, people become designated as “Habitual Traffic Offenders” (HTO) without even knowing it, by simply paying their civil citations. A HTO designation means that your license is automatically revoked for five years. If you are facing a license suspension or revocation, or have already had your license suspended or revoked, there may still be hope to restore your driving privileges. The Panella Law Firm understands that the loss of the privilege to drive is costly, embarrassing, and creates serious burdens on family, friends, and the ability to work. Call us today for a free consultation to determine if we can help you get back to your life.

Records Sealing or Expunction

If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, and your case has already been resolved, your first thought should be, “how can I get rid of this record?” In Florida, you may be able to “seal” or “expunge” your criminal record so future employers, educational institutions, government agencies, etc. will not have access to the information.

When a criminal history record is sealed, the public will not have access to it, and the record will be placed under highly restricted access. Certain governmental or related entities, primarily those listed in § 943.059(4)(a) Fla. Stat., have access to sealed record information in its entirety.

When a record has been expunged, it is actually removed from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s records. Further, even the court file and arrest reports will be destroyed. Those entities which would have access to a sealed record will be informed that the subject of the record has had a record expunged, but would not have access to the record itself without a court order.

Not all criminal records may be sealed or expunged. Call Panella Law Firm today to discuss your options. We will do everything we can to help erase the stigma of your arrest.

Mugshot Removal

If you have recently been arrested you may have been shocked to learn your mugshot is now plastered all over the internet. Indeed, this is a great example of insult added to injury as the first thing that shows up in a Google search of your name is now an image you don’t want anyone to see. We understand how this can damage your reputation and relationships, so call today to see if we can help you erase these destructive images.