Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

What Happens Next?


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A Look At What Happens Next: After The Arrest In Florida

Whether by the government(i.e., enforcement offer) and a citizen. In Florida, a person may be arrested or, in some cases, given a criminal summons to appear in court for arraignment.

If a person is arrested and taken to jail, they may get a Booking Officer Bond or may held for a judge to review the case at First Appearance. The First Appearance judge is usually not the trial judge who will hear the case for all later legal proceedings.

A Bail Bond will usually be set at First Appearance unless the person is charged with a capital case, certain cases where there is no right to pretrial release, a violation of probation or a violation of community control. In Juvenile Delinquency criminal cases, a bond hearing is held within twenty-four hours of arrest but is called a Detention Review Hearing.

If the person arrested is unable to make the bond set at First Appearance, or if no bond has been set, then they are entitled to have a Motion to Set or Reduce Bond filed on their behalf.

Arraignment is where the person arrested is formally charged by the State of Florida and the only question the judge will usually want answered is whether the person will plead Not Guilty, No Contest or Guilty. The case will not be tried on this date. Note: in some counties this court date is called Plea Day.

Arraignment Court tends to move quickly, and can be very dangerous for the defendant. Many people just want to get the whole thing over with quickly because the “not knowing what will happen” is driving them crazy. They plead out without a lawyer’s help, miss potential defenses and sometimes fall victim to Courthouse Surprise –an unexpected jail or prison sentence.

Arraignment is scheduled several weeks after the initial arrest or summons. A person must attend unless the court permits their attorney to file a Waiver of Arraignment. A Waiver of Arraignment is not allowed in most Juvenile Delinquency cases.

If a Waiver of Arraignment is field, the person is spared the embarrassment of having to appear in front of hundreds of people and being publicly accused in open court.

Along with a Waiver of Arraignment, your attorney can file a Notice of Appearance, a Written Plea o Not Guilty, and a Rule 3.220(b) Notice of Discovery. You many have gotten an Arrest Report and/or an Addendum of Probable Cause, but you weren’t given everything. You have a right to know what evidence the State has, whether it is accurate, and whether the evidence can be used (admissible or not) at trial.

A Written Plea of Not Guilty can always be changed to one of the other two pleas after the Notice of Discovery has been reviewed by you and your attorney. Your attorney will be familiar with the rules of evidence, the Florida Statutes and what is called the law of the case. This knowledge is used to help you whether you decide to go to trial or settle your case through a plea bargain.

We file those motions even when people think they are guilty for several reasons:

  • To check the evidence for defenses.
  • To uncover “hidden defenses” a lay person would not know about.
  • To prepare for trial and negotiate for a better plea bargain.
  • To prevent “courthouse surprise” – an unexpected jail or prison sentence.

The State provides a Discovery Exhibit approximately three weeks after Arraignment. We review the Discovery Exhibit and we always send a copy to our client. We will schedule all appointments as needed as conveniently as possible.

The entire legal process usually takes 90 to 180 days from arrest to conclusion.

This Florida arrest guide explains the arrest process for most new cases and is generic. Violation of Probation/Community Control and Juvenile cases have a different format.

Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

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