People who do not work in law enforcement or criminal defense rarely have an understanding of Florida’s process for prosecuting crimes. It is critical, though, for people suddenly faced with criminal charges to become familiar with the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure so that they understand their rights and what they can expect going forward. If you are accused of a crime, it is in your best interest to speak to a trusted Tampa criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to assess your options and potential defenses.
Florida’s Rule of Criminal Procedure from Arrest to Case Resolution
The process of prosecuting a person begins with an arrest. The police cannot arrest a person unless they have probable cause, which means there is reasonable evidence suggesting the person committed the crime. Following the arrest, the person will be charged with either an information or an indictment. Within twenty-four hours of the arrest, the defendant must be brought before the judge for the first appearance. The judge will inform the defendant of the pending charges against him or her, advise the defendant of the right to counsel and explain the bond. If the defendant is unable to post the bail set by the judge, he or she can request a bond hearing.
The defendant will then be arraigned. During an arraignment, the judge will advise the defendant of the substance of the charges and request that the defendant enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. The defendant’s attorney may file a notice of discovery, which triggers the requirement that the prosecution provide the defendant’s counsel with any evidence against the defendant and a demand for a jury trial.
Prior to trial, the defendant’s attorney may file motions to suppress certain evidence on the grounds that it was obtained illegally or is inadmissible on other grounds. The parties will participate in pre-trial hearings as well. In many instances, they will develop plea deals during such hearings, which means the defendant will concede guilt, usually in exchange for reduced charges or sentences. If no deal is struck, the case will proceed to trial. In order to obtain a guilty verdict, the State must produce evidence sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the alleged offense.
If the defendant is found guilty, the defendant will be sentenced based on the Florida sentencing guidelines and other facts. A defendant that is found not guilty, however, is free to resume his or her life. Regardless of the jury’s verdict, either party may choose to file an appeal if there are sufficient grounds for doing so.
Meet with a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney in Tampa
Knowledge of the criminal process is key to pursuing a just outcome, and it is critical for people charged with crimes to seek legal counsel regarding their rights and obligations. William Hanlon of Hanlon Law is a skilled Tampa criminal defense attorney, and if you are charged with a crime, he can advise you of your options for seeking the best result possible in your case. You can reach Mr. Hanlon through the online form or at 813-228-7095 to set up a meeting.