Defendant in a Criminal Case in Florida
Author: Paul E. Ghezzi, Esq.
There are several situations in which the police can arrest a person. The first situation is when an arrest warrant has been signed by a judge. Police can also arrest an individual without an arrest warrant under several other circumstances. Those occasions include:
1. When the officer believes that a felony was committed or is being committed and they believe that the person they are arresting is the offending party.
2. When a misdemeanor is committed in the presence of the officer or when one of a few listed misdemeanors were committed, even if officer was not present, such as domestic violence, shoplifting, carrying a concealed weapon, or driving under the influence.
When police place someone under arrest they will transport that person to the jail to begin the booking process. Keep in mind it is highly likely that they will begin recording you the minute you are placed in the transport vehicle. That is especially true when more than one person is being arrested. Under no circumstances should you have any discussion with the officer or co-defendant about the case. After being processed you will be given an opportunity to make a call. Again, keep in mind that your call will be recorded so do not discuss the case. Use calls wisely to arrange bail or contact a defense attorney.
If no bond was set on the arrest warrant the arrested party will be brought in front of a Judge the next day. At the initial appearance the Judge will set a bond or release the arrestee on their own recognizance and order any other conditions as deemed necessary such as no contact with the victim or no return to the place the offense was alleged to have occurred. Additionally, the Court will set the arraignment date for the case.
The arraignment is where the Judge asks the defendant if he wants to plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. If an attorney has been hired prior to this date that lawyer can file pleadings which will allow the Defendant to waive their appearance and not have to spend half a day in court. Under no circumstances should you plead guilty or no contest at the arraignment, especially if immigration status can be affected. You should always consult with an attorney prior to your arraignment date to be fully advised of your rights and possible outcomes of your case.
Once a plea of not guilty is entered the court will then set a trial date and a pre-trial date. The attorney can request what is called discovery and the State has 15 days to reveal all the evidence they have against the defendant. There are time limits to how long an arrested person can go without being given a trial. A lawyer can advise you of these limits and possibly have a positive effect on your defense. By hiring an attorney, you can also often avoid having to appear in court in person for many of the next scheduled events. Usually cases get worse for the State and better for the accused the longer the case is drawn out.
Eventually the case will need to be resolved either by trial, plea or the State deciding to drop the charges. In quite a few instances an attorney can convince the State that the best interest of justice demands that charges be dismissed. When this is a first offense, and not too serious a charge, you will find that often the State will allow the accused to complete a program which might include counseling, fines, or community service. Once that program is completed the State will drop the charge. If you are wanting a trial, you should hire an attorney with significant trial experience. You do not want to place your fate in the hands of a lawyer that is afraid to go to trial.
If you or someone close to you has been arrested or you believe they might soon be charged, please do not hesitate to call me at the Law Offices of Liu and Associates and I will be happy to advise you in the matter.
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