Practice Areas Overview

Criminal defense attorney Henry Bell of Henry P. Bell, P.A. defends clients accused of federal crimes and certain state crimes in South Florida.  Mr. Bell is committed to providing thorough, effective and aggressive representation for clients at all stages of the criminal law process.  As a former Assistant Federal Public Defender for the Southern District of Florida, he has an in-depth understanding of the criminal justice system, and draws on that knowledge to anticipate the tactics and circumstances his clients are likely to face in court.

Mr. Bell focuses his practice primarily on felony matters arising in Federal Courts, including allegations of:

  • Healthcare fraud
  • Bank and mortgage fraud
  • Securities fraud
  • Wire fraud
  • White collar offenses
  • Environmental offenses
  • Alien smuggling
  • Drug trafficking
  • Money laundering

Mr. Bell is admitted to practice in the District Courts for the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida.  Mr. Bell represents clients in appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.  He also selectively handles matters in state courts, including cases of homicide, drug trafficking, insurance fraud, mortgage fraud and other serious felony cases where the accused face the possibility of imprisonment.

Bond and Pre Trial Release

In many state court cases obtaining a person's release on bond may be a simple as contacting a qualified bail bondsman.  In many other cases, however, there is much more to be done, especially in federal cases and those state court cases where the charges give rise to very high bond or no bond.  Having appeared before the federal magistrates who handle bond and pre trial detention matters hundreds of times over the last 10 years, Mr. Bell is well qualified to navigate what is often an early and very important step in the criminal legal process.  Prosecutors often seek the pre trial detention of the accused or very high bond.  In some cases such may be appropriate but in many others it may not be appropriate.  Mr. Bell is well versed in making sure that his clients are heard in federal bond and pre trial detention hearings and in state court bond and Arthur hearings where very often the government's or state's evidence must be confronted and a client's past and his or her ties to the community are at issue.

Trials and Appeals

Every defendant accused of committing a crime has a constitutional right to trial by jury.  Not all cases, of course, end in trial.  Many defendants seek to resolve their cases through plea bargaining.  Nevertheless, it is only with a lawyer who is prepared for trail, if necessary, and experienced and willing to handle trials that a client is best served.  Such a lawyer, through preparation for trial and by pursing appropriate pre trial motions, places himself in the best position to win an acquittal at trial or, alternatively, plea bargain with prosecutors so that he may obtain the best result possible for the client.  Mr. Bell is such a lawyer.

Mr. Bell also handles appeals for many of his clients.  As an Assistant Federal Public Defender, he was expected to, and did, handle every phase of his clients' proceedings, including appealing his client's cases to the Court of Appeals.  As such, Mr. Bell is qualified to handle appeals and often does so for many of his clients.

Grand Juries and Criminal Investigations

For some persons, their first encounter with the criminal legal process may not be when they are arrested and charged with committing a crime.  Grand juries are used by law enforcement and prosecutors to conduct criminal investigations and lodge charges (through an indictment) against the putative target or targets of a criminal investigation.  The grand jury empowers prosecutors to compel testimony and obtain records and evidence through use of subpoena power.  Consequently, grand jury subpoenas must be taken very seriously by those called to testify and produce evidence.  Some persons are called to testify before a grand jury as "witnesses" or "subjects" in a criminal investigation.  While such persons may not be "targets" of the investigation, they may nevertheless be placed in jeopardy and run the risk of being charged with committing a crime or accused of perjury (lying) or obstructing justice.   Mr. Bell is experienced in representing witnesses and targets alike and navigating the often treacherous waters which grand jury and criminal investigations present.

Civil and Criminal Forfeiture

Mr. Bell has a wealth of experience in representing clients in civil and criminal forfeiture cases.  The purpose of a civil forfeiture is to confiscate property used in violation of the law and remove the illegally gained property from alleged violators of law.  Civil forfeitures are in rem, meaning action is taken solely against the property based on a legal finding that the property itself was used in an illegal manner or otherwise represents the proceeds of unlawful activity; in rem proceedings are not actions taken against the alleged violator, but against the property involved in the alleged illegality.  Consequently, civil forfeiture proceedings may adversely impact the rights of the owners of the property or other claimants with rights at stake in the property.  Civil forfeiture proceedings may be either administrative (conducted by the seizing agency) or judicial (conducted in court before a judge).  The value and type of asset to be seized, and whether or not the seizure is to be contested, determines the type of proceeding used.

Criminal forfeiture is imposed as punishment following a conviction.  Criminal forfeiture is in personam, or against the individual, and requires that the government indict the property used in or obtained with proceeds from the crime.  Following the completion of the criminal trial, if the defendant is found guilty, criminal forfeiture proceedings are conducted in court before a judge.  Criminal forfeiture proceedings may likewise adversely impact the rights of an owner or claimant with rights to the property the subject of the forfeiture proceedings.


Extradition refers to the formal process by which an individual is delivered from the country where he or she is located to a requesting country to face prosecution or serve a sentence.  The U.S. generally grants extradition when there is a treaty or convention addressing extradition between the U.S. and the requesting country.   Extradition proceedings typically ensue before a United States Magistrate following the arrest of the person sought by the requesting country.  The U.S. will also, without regard to a treaty, extradite persons (except for citizens, nationals, or permanent residents of the U.S.) who have committed crimes of violence against nationals of the U.S. in foreign countries.  Mr. Bell is experienced in handling extradition proceedings and has appeared before the Federal Magistrates in the Southern District of Florida numerous times.  

Some countries will grant extradition even if a treaty does not exist.  Many countries, including Canada and Mexico, will not grant extradition if the suspect faces the death penalty; extradition may be granted upon assurance that the death penalty will not be sought.

Other Civil Proceedings

Mr. Bell represents clients in certain civil court proceedings where they are accused of wrongdoing, fraud or other similar malfeasance.  The proceedings may be instituted by government agencies or regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (S.E.C.) or by a private party where a defendant or witness during the proceedings may be accused of wrongdoing which may be characterized as criminal in nature and which may later lead to criminal charges being lodged.  Many times such persons are professionals whose licenses and ability make a living may be adversely impacted.  While such civil proceedings may not themselves place an individual or client at risk of imprisonment or criminal fines, they may serve as the vehicle by which evidence is gathered against those involved and which is later used to arm prosecutors and law enforcement.  Consequently, Mr. Bell is often called upon to counsel and represent clients in civil enforcement actions and other civil proceedings where future criminal liability may be at stake.  In that way, such clients may be properly represented by counsel who has a full understanding of what is at stake and will work to avoid criminal charges being filed.     

Seek Experienced Legal Representation

Criminal proceedings are extremely complex, as are many criminal laws.  If you have been called to appear before a grand jury, are under investigation, are involved in a civil enforcement or other matter where your conduct is at issue, or have been arrested or charged with a crime, contact criminal defense attorney Henry Bell of Henry P. Bell, P.A for a confidential consultation regarding your rights and options.