Criminal Law Procedure: From Arrest to Sentencing

What to Expect from the Criminal Law Process

When a person is accused of a crime in Florida, several steps must be carried out through the trial. Knowing that to expect can allow a person to prepare their arguments and evidence, and work with a lawyer to ensure that they are protecting themselves every step of the way.

The criminal court in Florida follows the following procedure:

  1. Arrest. This happens when someone is placed in the physical custody of law enforcement or given a summons to appear in court.
  2. First Appearance. The person will go before a judge. The judge will explain what the charges leveled against them will be, and whether or not there is a basis for the criminal charges. It is at the first appearance that the arrested individual can choose to hire their own attorney or have a public defender assigned to them. The bond amount will also be determined.
  3. Arraignment. The accused will work with their attorney to respond to the charges by leveling a plea of guilty or not guilty. It is not always necessary to appear for an arraignment if an attorney files a Written Plea of Not Guilty.
  4. Pretrial Conference. The attorney and the prosecution will begin to hear defense motions and discuss the details of the case, including what evidence will be admitted and any witnesses that will be called. The prosecution can share a plea bargain at the pretrial conference. At the end, the date for the trial will be established.
  5. Trial. Depending on the type of trial, the accused will stand before a jury or a judge and plead their case as to why they are not responsible for the crime they have been accused of. In trial, each side will have the opportunity to present facts and supporting evidence, examine and cross-examine any witnesses, and object to information that was presented by the opposition. Based on this information, the judge or jury will decide whether or not the defendant is guilty.
  6. Sentencing. Only if the court came to the decision of guilty or no contest to the charges will sentencing occur. The judge can establish the terms of the sentencing, including time behind bars, fines, and other stipulations, based on predetermined sentencing maximums.

If you or a loved one have been brought up on criminal charges in Tampa, you do not have much time to craft a solid defense for your case. Thomas & Paulk, P.A. have represented many misdemeanor and felony criminal convictions. Give us a call at any time of day to speak with an experienced attorney at our firm!