I am originally from Cheshire, Connecticut, where I lived until I moved to Pennsylvania for college and law school. I attended King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and received my Bachelor's degrees in both Political Science and Philosophy. While at King's, I was a starter on the football team for 4 years playing as a defensive end/outside linebacker. After King's, I moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I received my Juris Doctorate degree from Duquesne University School of Law. While in law school, I was a member of the trial team, the negotiation team, and the appellate moot court team. In addition to being an active member of these teams, I was a Certified Legal Intern at the Allegheny County Public Defender's office for over one year handling criminal matters such as preliminary hearings. As you can see, I knew early in my law career that criminal defense work was and always will be my passion. Shortly after graduating from Duquesne School of Law, I moved to Tampa, Florida, where I began my legal career in September 2000. I currently reside in the Tampa Bay area (Brandon) with my wife, our sons, and our dog.
Within weeks of becoming a member of the Florida Bar, I decided to accept a position at the Public Defender's Office in Tampa. For seven years I was an assistant public defender in the major crimes division handling primarily homicides, sex offenses, and other serious felony offenses. Handling these complex cases allowed me to refine and perfect my trial and litigation skills, as I tried over 100 jury trials to verdict during this 7-year period. I was also given the opportunity to assist in countless other cases as a supervisor for younger attorneys within the felony division.
In 2008, I earned and received my Board Certification in Criminal Trial from the Florida Bar. As a board-certified criminal trial lawyer, I am considered an expert and specialist in criminal trial. Only board-certified attorneys are allowed to call themselves an "expert" or a "specialist." With nearly 100,000 attorneys practicing in Florida, there are only a little over 400 of us who are board-certified in criminal trial. There are less than 40 or so lawyers who are Board Certified in Criminal Trial Law in the Tampa Bay area. Board Certification guarantees that the attorney has the experience, is respected by judges and lawyers in the Tampa Bay legal community and is tested for the highest level of competence in Criminal Trial Law. I was re-certified as a board-certified criminal trial attorney in 2013 and again in 2018. In addition to being both licensed and board-certified in the State of Florida, I am admitted to practice in the Middle District of Florida (federal court) and the Eleventh Circuit Appellate Court (federal).
My trial experience includes the following types of cases: homicide, manslaughter, DUI manslaughter, capital sexual battery, lewd or lascivious behavior, various drug offenses, various traffic offenses, serious felony offenses, and misdemeanors. In addition to my extensive litigation and trial experience, I have years of experience in resolving cases without the necessity for a trial. Many times, and for a number of reasons, a trial may not be what a client desires in their case. When a client does not wish to have a trial, having an attorney who is able to successfully negotiate the case to a favorable resolution can be critical. I have successfully negotiated thousands of cases to amicable resolutions. Those cases range from simple traffic offenses to misdemeanors to serious felony offenses and everything in between. I have also written and argued many appellate briefs to the various District Court of Appeal in Florida and to the Florida Supreme Court.
Just before opening this office, I worked in the special investigations unit (SIU) for a major insurance company battling insurance fraud, including, "staged" or fake car accident, bogus homeowner's claims, and provider fraud. Most of the cases involved personal injury protection ("PIP") or "no-fault" fraud. While this SIU work was challenging as it required a hybrid of my civil and criminal trial skills, it simply was not my passion.
In September 2014, I simply realized that I missed criminal defense work a little too much. I have always believed in justice, criminal defense, and making the government prove its case against the defendant. It is how the system works; it is how the system has to work. When I made the decision to return to the criminal courtroom, I started the Candela Law Firm, P.A. I did this because I believe that I can make a difference for those who are charged with a crime. It is my goal and mission to provide my clients with the best and most effective representation possible.