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First Appearance

This is where the court sets a bond.  The first appearance happens within twenty-four 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

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

INFORMATION

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

Discovery

In Florida, the State Attorney's Office is required to provide the defendant any materials that will be used to prosecute the case.  This allows your attorney to prepare for your case.  Also, the exchange of discovery helps your attorney understand the facts of your case.

Pre-Trial

Once you have entered a formal plea and received your discovery, your case will proceed to a series of Pre-Trial 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.

Trial

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 guilt or innocence.

What to Expect

The criminal justice system can be difficult to follow.  If you, or a loved one, are charged with a crime, here are the basics on what to expect

Overview

This is a very brief overview of what to expect if you, or a loved one, is charged with a crime.  The most important thing you can do is consult with our offices as soon as possible so we can advise you on the steps you need to immediately take.