Criminal Defense in North West Florida including Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, Navarre, Ft. Walton, Destin, Milton, Crestview and DeFuniak Springs - Kim Anthony Skievaski

If you have been charged with a crime you have specific rights to guarantee a fair trial and ensure you are represented. The firm of Kim Anthony Skievaski represents and protects the rights of their clients accused of criminal offense. We provide representation of criminal offense to citizens accused of all manner of crimes. As a former circuit judge and former state prosecutor, Kim Anthony Skievaski provides the knowledge and experience you need.

With over 28 years of legal experience, Kim A. Skievaski, P.A. is dedicated to providing aggressive, honest and thorough representation to all of his clients.

Cases involving criminal accusations can be very complex and can have results that last a life time. Don't rely on chance, contact us today and find out how we can ensure you receive the representation you deserve. The following information is provided to give you a basic understanding of some of the procedures involved with a criminal prosecution.

Your First Appearance

All Defendants are entitled to a "First Appearance" hearing in court within 24 hours of being arrested. At this hearing, the Judge is required to consider a defendant’s

  • Access to legal representation and
  • Issues regarding the Defendant's pre-trial release.

If a defendant remains in custody after First Appearance, a judge must determine whether probable cause exists within 48 hours of the arrest. As a matter of practice, judges commonly review probable cause at the First Appearance. Under the Florida rules, the Judge is required to consider a sworn affidavit made by the arresting officer to determine if there is sufficient probable cause to hold the Defendant for further proceedings. During this time the attorneys present will not argue the available evidence. The Judge simply considers the affidavit presented.

The Judge will then consider the ability of the Defendant to acquire an attorney for representation. If a charged with a felony, the Defendant is usually required to have an attorney. If the Defendant is considered to be insolvent, then the Public Defender's Office may be appointed.

An important consideration is the defendant’s right to some form of pre-trial release. The Judge will hear from the Attorney and/or Defendant regarding any matters relating to the bond. When bond is determined, the case will be passed for a period of time to give the State Attorney a chance to review and investigate the charges and decide whether to file formal charges in the form of what is called an Information or take the case to the Grand Jury to seek Indictment.

Intake Interviews

If you are in custody, you may be contacted by an investigator from our office to complete an initial interview. You will be asked the details of why you were charged with a crime. Our investigator is not an attorney, however, any information you give is confidential and will not be repeated, including the details of why you were charged with a crime. It is very important that you do not discuss your case with anyone, especially law enforcement officers. If you are in custody, you should not discuss your case in any manner with a fellow inmate. Any details you discuss with anyone besides your attorney can be used against you in court.

Making an Appointment

If you are not in custody, I invite you to call or contact my office and make an appointment to see me. Because of our schedule, it is often impossible to interview a client who walks in off the street. You do not need to speak to Kim Anthony Skievaski personally to make an appointment. Simply ask to make an appointment.

Bond Procedures

If your crime does not carry a penalty of life imprisonment or the death penalty, you have the right to a bond. If your charges involve a violation of probation or an out of state warrant, granting a bond is up to the Judge and is often not granted. If you cannot afford the bond set at the first appearance, you can request to file a formal motion for bond reduction. We almost never ask for a bond reduction on a violation of probation unless there are exceptional circumstances. Once the bond is set, we will normally not ask that another bond hearing be set.

A Defendant may get out of jail by posting the amount of money set by the Judge or by putting up property worth the amount of the bond. If the Defendant does not have enough property or money, a professional bondsman can be asked to make bond. The bondsman's fee for service is ten percent of the amount of bond with additional collateral required.

Pre-trial Intervention/Deferred Prosecution

The Florida Department of Corrections operates a program called the Pre-Trial Intervention Program. The State Probation office operates a program called Deferred Prosecution Program. These two programs are typically for first offenders only; they are an alternative to going to court. Application approval requires the victim, arresting officer, the State Attorney, and the Judge to all approve. If you have no prior record, ask us about the pre-trial intervention program or deferred prosecution program. These programs are not available for DUI's or more serious crimes.

Arraignment (first court date)

Arraignment is usually the Defendant's first court date; the purpose of an arraignment is to provide the Defendant a copy of the formal charges. The Defendant can plead not guilty, no contest or guilty at their arraignment. If the plea is not guilty, the case is usually set for what is known as a Docket or Plea Day, usually a month to six weeks after the arraignment.


After the arraignment, the case will be investigated by the attorney handling the case and by the investigators in our office. First, we take legal steps to learn more about a case. We will typically file what is known as a Demand for Discovery which is a demand to compel the State to disclose to us a number of important facts involving the case. These include:

  • a list of witnesses that the State intends to call
  • police reports
  • statements of witnesses
  • reports of experts
  • the statement of the Defendant

This information allows us to know what evidence the State has against the Defendant so that we can prepare a complete defense. We will forward this information to you as soon as we receive it and schedule a review appointment to discuss the information. This appointment is very important.

After receiving the discovery information we will attempt to take discovery depositions. The witnesses for the State will be subpoenaed to a court reporter's office and we will take their statements under oath. We will question them about all matters that are possibly relevant to the pending case. Court permission is required to take depositions in misdemeanor cases.

During the above processes we will begin to locate and contact witnesses, including those whose names and addresses you have given us. Send us a letter as soon as you can with the name, number and addresses of all witnesses as soon as you can. Defense witnesses are persons who can testify to any circumstances that indicate to the absence of guilt, or that tend to show that the crime committed was not as serious as the Prosecutor alleges. It is important that you make every effort available to find the information we need to contact your witnesses.

We will often investigate the possibility of a plea regardless of whether or not a Defendant has expressed interest in a plea as we feel it is important to preserve and establish as many options as possible. Plea bargains usually require an admission of guilt in exchange for a reduction in sentencing.

Before the plea or docket day, the attorney and Defendant will have a thorough discussion involving all aspects of the case. The attorney may talk to the Defendant before the discovery deposition if it is felt there is certain information needed before talking to the witnesses. It is important that you be honest with your attorney and completely truthful about the case.

Facts that you feel can hurt your case actually can be helpful to the defense. All communications between a lawyer and client are private. At conference, we will place all the facts in front of you and explain what defenses are available, including what the chances of success are. We will explain to you possible sentences that might be received if a plea of guilty or no contest is entered or if you are found guilty at trial. The decision to plead guilty or no contest is strictly up to you, but we will offer advice if you request it. A Defendant in a criminal case has the following rights:

  • The right to plead not guilty
  • The right to trial by jury
  • The right to be represented or helped at trial by a lawyer.
  • The right to compel or make any witnesses come to trial.
  • The right to be present when witnesses testify against you.
  • The right to cross-examine witnesses who testify against you.
  • The right to remain silent and not testify against yourself.
  • The right to present any and all defenses you may have.
  • The right to appeal all matters relating to the judgment, including the issue of guilt or innocence.

Docket /Plea Day

On the docket/pleas day the Court will be advised on whether or not the Defendant wishes to go to trial. By this date, we will be thoroughly familiar with the facts of the case and able to make tactical decisions involving the case. Pleas of not guilty, no contest or any plea bargains will be offered at the docket/plea day. Otherwise, the case will be set for trial. We will ask for a trial by jury unless it is felt that it would be to the Defendant's advantage to ask for a trial before the Judge and give up the right to a jury trial. Your presence at docket/plea day is strictly required. Judges regularly issue warrants without bond for Defendants who do not appear at docket/plea day (unless excused by the court).


Jury Trials include six or more citizens that hear evidence presented and then determine (1) the facts of the case and (2) guilt or innocence. A Judge Trial is a trial where the Judge decides guilt or innocence instead of a jury; and weights all facts as well.

If your case goes to trial, you will be fully advised as to what to expect during trial.

Speedy Trial

Every Defendant has a right to a speedy trial. Misdemeanor charges give the Defendant an automatic right to speedy trial within 90 days from the date of arrest. A special speedy trial rule applies to Defendants charged with felonies. If a misdemeanor trial does not begin within 90 days or a felony trial does not begin within 175 days from the date of a defendants arrest, a motion can be filed to discharge the case. If the trial does not begin within 15 days from the date the motion to discharge is filed, then the case will be dismissed. A formal demand for speedy trial is considered a drastic step because it means that the Judge could order the case to be tried the very next day whether or not the Defendant and attorney were prepared for trial. A formal demand for speedy trial should never be made without consultation with your attorney.

Changing of Plea

If, at the day of trial or at any other time before trial, the Defendant and the attorney wish to change the plea of "not guilty" to "guilty" or " no contest", or if there is a negotiation, the attorney will explain to the Court that the Defendant desires to change his plea. The Court will make sure the decision to plea guilty is entirely your own. Some of the questions the Judge may ask are:

  • Do you understand the offense with which you are charged is:_____________?
  • Do you know the sentence the Court can give you?
  • Has anyone made any promises of special treatment, leniency, light sentence, or anything else to get you to plead guilty?
  • Has anyone threatened you, coerced you, or otherwise forced you to plead guilty?
  • Do you understand that the sentence the Court decides to give you is solely up to the Court-- ? and the Court is not bound by any recommendation for special treatment?
  • Are you in fact guilty -- or are you pleading guilty, or no contest because you feel it is in your best interest to do so?

Effect of Plea of No Contest or "Guilty"

A Defendant can only plead one of three ways-- (1) Not Guilty, (2) Guilty, or (3) No Contest. No contest is a way to not admit guilt while acknowledging that a judge or jury could find you guilty based on the facts surrounding the charges. A Judge will not treat you differently for sentencing purposes if you enter a plea of no contest or not guilty. A plea of no contest cannot be used against you in a civil action, whereas a plea of guilty can be used against you.

Pre-sentencing Investigation

The Court has many legal rules by which to determine the sentence to be imposed when time of sentencing comes, depending upon the statutes, laws & rules in effect at the time the crime is alleged to have been committed.

The Court sometimes needs additional information about the offenses and about the Defendant, particular circumstances, in order to fairly and correctly impose sentence. On occasion the Judge will order a pre-sentence investigation. An investigator for the State of Florida will question you, members of your family, your acquaintances, and witnesses in the case in order to make a report to the Judge.

It is important to remember that all information you give to this person will be considered by the Judge in determining what sentence to impose. All statements may be investigated, and untruthful statements are reported to the Judge. The investigative findings include the cause and the circumstances of the crime. The report also summarizes the Defendant's prior criminal record, if any, surveys the Defendant's reputation in the community, includes information on employment, the Defendant's family and background, and plans for the future if the Defendant is placed on probation. The report also prints out certain things such as the Defendant's lifestyle, behavior pattern, and general attitude.

You will be given an opportunity to review this report before sentencing. Your lawyer will discuss the pre-sentence investigation with you in detail both before you speak to the probation officer and after the pre-sentence investigation is completed.


After the pre-sentence investigation is completed, you will be brought to Court for sentencing. At this time, the Judge will ask if there is any reason why sentence should not be imposed, and your attorney will have an opportunity to speak on your behalf.

The Court will sometimes permit other persons to speak on behalf of the Defendant at sentencing. If the Defendant has an employer, minister or other person who he would like to speak on his behalf at sentencing, he should advise his attorney before the morning of sentencing. The law requires the State Attorney to notify alleged victims of crimes of their right to appear at sentencing to speak to the Court.

Once a Judge has sentenced the Defendant, he will not change or reduce the sentence unless he is given important information that he did not know at sentencing and which changes his mind. This must be done within 60 days of sentencing unless initiated by your probation officer.

Recommendations to the Court or Negotiations

As mentioned earlier, there may be a negotiation with the Court as to why the sentence might be if the plea of guilty or no contest is entered. When the Judge asks the Defendant if there were any promises made that would cause a "guilty" or "no contest", if there is a negotiation or plea bargain, it will be stated at that time. The Judge may or may not be bound by the negotiation, and will say at that time whether or not he or she will be bound by it. If the Judge desires not to be bound by the recommendations, and states that desire, the recommendations can be ignored completely with full legal authority.


Every Defendant has the right to appeal a Jury's or a Judge's decision that he or she is guilty, or the denial of defense motions. A Defendant has the right to an attorney to take the appeal if he or she has no money to hire one.

The appeal must be filed within thirty days after sentencing. A Defendant must write to the Court to appoint an attorney if he or she wishes to appeal, or if an attorney has been engaged, that an appeal is wanted.

An appeal will only help the Defendant if the Court did not follow the law or if the proceedings prevented the Defendant from having all legal rights. In all other cases the Appeal Court will "affirm". You have to tell the Appeal Court exactly how the Judge did not follow the law or what rights you were denied before it will reverse a conviction.


Although correspondence between attorney and client must not be censored, it is wise to put on the envelope:

  • Confidential
  • Attorney - Client Communications

Be sure to put your full name and where you are being held on the letter as well as the envelope. Also include on your letter the date that you are writing the letter. Simply give the letter to one of the Jailers with instructions to mail it to our office.

Call now for your free initial consultation: (850) 434-3111

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, contact Kim Anthony Skievaski for free written information about our qualifications and experience.

Kim Anthony Skievaski is a member of Sellers Skievaski & Stevenson, LLP.

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The use of the Internet or this form for communication with Mr. Skievaski P.A. or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be considered privileged.