When you are facing criminal charges, you undoubtedly have questions. What is going to happen to you? What do you do next? If this is your first arrest, it is reasonable to assume that you don’t know what to expect. Here is a brief outline of the process of a criminal case in the state of Florida.

Arrest

Most criminal cases begin with an arrest. A police officer has probably cause to believe that you committed a crime and place you under arrest. In some cases, charges may be filed against you as the result of an investigation by the State Attorney.

Booking

After you are arrested, you will be taken to a booking area. Your possessions will be inventoried, your information taken and you will have a booking photo snapped.

First Appearance

If you are not bailed out, a judge will review your bond within 24 hours. This is a First Appearance or Advisory. The judge can set your bond provided that it is appropriate for the charges levied against you. During this hearing, you will be advised of the charges and restrictions that are a part of your bond.

Arraignment

An arraignment is simply an opportunity for you and your attorney to enter a plea. Your attorney will typically advise you to enter a not-guilty plea. You may or may not have to appear at the arraignment in person. Your attorney will advise you of this.

Formal Charges

Once the prosecutor believes that they have enough evidence to win their case, they will file Information (formal charges). The charges may be different than what is listed on the official arrest report.

Discovery

A Notice of Discovery is optional but are filed in most cases. This is a formal query by your attorney for the prosecutor. Your attorney is seeking to obtain any evidence that has been collected against you. In addition, your attorney must share the information they have gathered.

Pretrial

The prosecutor and your attorney will discuss the case. This may include an attempt to strike a deal that will help you avoid a trial. This is encouraged by judges who do not want to add to an already overloaded court docket.

Trial

If a plea deal is not offered or accepted, your case will move to trial. It is during a trial that evidence will be introduced and testimony taken. Your trial may be in front of a jury of your peers or a single judge.

Sentencing

If you are found guilty at your trial, you will move on to sentencing. If you were charged with a misdemeanor, you will be sentenced as soon as you are found guilty. If you are being convicted of a felony, your sentencing will typically occur at a separate hearing.

If you have been charged with a crime in Orlando, we understand that you have questions. Each criminal case is unique. Call our office today and schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation. We will answer your questions and help you determine your best course of action.

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