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You Have The Right To A Defense

The criminal justice system can be difficult to follow. I’m Wes Hatcher, and if you or a loved one is charged with a crime in Florida, Hatcher Law, can help. The most important thing you can do is consult with me as soon as possible. This gives me time to examine your case and advise you on the steps you need to immediately take. Below is a general overview of what you can expect.

First Appearance

This is where the court sets a bond. The first appearance happens within 24 hours of the arrest. The purpose of a bond is to make sure the charged person attends court on the scheduled dates. The court will not consider any facts of the case during the first appearance.


Arraignment is the next court appearance. At the arraignment, an official plea is entered with the court. The criminal defendant enters a plea of not guilty or no contest. Generally, if you are charged with a crime, you should plead not guilty at your arraignment. In a felony case, the state attorney should have filed information by arraignment.


The information document is the official charging form and is filed by the prosecutor assigned to the case. It puts in writing all the official charges being brought against the defendant. Once the information document is filed, the prosecution officially begins.


In Florida, the state attorney’s office is required to provide the defendant with any materials that will be used to prosecute the case, called discovery. This allows your attorney to prepare for your case. Also, the exchange of discovery helps your attorney understand the facts of your case.


Once you have entered a formal plea and received your discovery, your case will proceed to a series of pretrial conferences. These court dates are status updates that keep the court informed concerning the status of the case. Also, these court dates provide an opportunity to negotiate terms of settlement in your case.


If you and the prosecutor cannot reach an agreement on the resolution of your case, the case will proceed to trial. You have a number of options for trial. If you proceed to trial, a jury or, in some instances, the judge, will hear the facts and then determine your guilt or innocence.

Call Our Office Today

Make sure you have the right attorney guiding you through this legal process. To schedule a consultation and learn more about how I can help, call my office in Panama City at 850-641-8810 today. You can also email me and I will be in touch with you as soon as possible.