There are some common questions that you can be faced with if you are going through a criminal charge. A good criminal defense lawyer in Vero Beach, FL., may be able to take you through the process and clear any doubts.
What happens after a person is arrested?
I. Generally, when a person is arrested, they are typically brought to the local county jail for processing. This entails providing a person’s biographical and personal information, which the police use to determine if the person has any open warrants and/or criminal history.
ii. If you are being arrested for a misdemeanor, the officer in some cases can decide NOT to book you in the county jail and provide you with what is called a notice to appear. If you have ever heard the term “written arrest”, this is what a notice to appear is; it is a summons or requirement that you appear before a judge on a specific date and time.
iii. If you are booked in the jail for a felony, you will be processed and depending on the charges, you will either have a scheduled bond that you or a bondsman can pay OR you may have to physically see a judge the following morning. Cases like domestic battery require someone to see a judge.
Do I need to speak with the police before or after I am arrested?
If you are being investigated for committing a crime, you have the right to remain silent under the 5th amendment to the U.S. constitution. When being interrogated and detained by the police, many times they are looking to lock you into a statement or place you at a specific location where a crime occurred. Most times, your best defense is to remain silent or explain you do not wish to answer any questions in a respectful manner. Then, you should express that you want a Vero Beach, FL criminal defense lawyer.
What is a first appearance or magistrate court?
i. When someone is arrested in Florida, the first hearing they attend is a first appearance or magistrate court. This hearing is typically held within 24 hours of their arrest. It is at this time that a Judge formally reads the criminal charges out loud to you. A prosecutor will likely read off your criminal history, or lack thereof, and any times in the past that you have failed to appear in court.
ii. The purpose of this hearing is to set your bond (bail) based on two factors: (1) Are you a danger to the community and; (2) how likely is it that you will appear for your future court dates.
iii. In determining your bond, Judges consider the charges, your criminal history, prior times you missed court, and the allegations in the reports presented to them.
iv. Some criminal charges do not entitle a person to bond, however, most do and Judges can require you post a monetary bond, attend and keep in touch with some form of pre trial services department, require an electronic monitor (house arrest), or a mixture thereof.
What is an arraignment?
i. The arraignment is your first opportunity to enter a plea in the case. 99.9% of cases start with the attorney entering a plea of NOT guilty. It is only until the attorney has completed their due diligence on the case and investigated all avenues, before they entertain changing your previously entered plea, IF at all.
How long does a criminal case last?
i. Many factors come into play when determining how much time your criminal case will take. For instance, how complex the matter is, your criminal history, the county in which you were charged, and if it is a misdemeanor or a felony are all considerations when determining how long your criminal case will take.
ii. The complexity of a case will affect how long it takes. A simple misdemeanor might be resolved within a few weeks or a few months, while a felony case might last for several months or over a year. If the prosecution makes a reasonable plea offer early in the process or there are some motions to exclude evidence. The case will end much sooner than if it goes to trial.
I’m guilty, do I still need a criminal defense lawyer in Vero Beach, FL?
i. YES! You may be saying to yourself “why do I need a lawyer, I know I’m guilty. What could they possibly do?”
ii. When you are arrested and charged with a crime, the United States Government, arguably the most powerful organization in the world, is literally fighting to put you in jail, prison, convict you, and take away your rights. Do you want to go into that fight alone?
iii. Many times, defense attorneys represent guilty individuals, however, through their training and experience, can work out settlements that are advantageous to you and would not have been offered if you were not represented by a lawyer.
iv. Many times, you may be guilty but there is a rule of evidence that would keep certain incriminating evidence out of the case. And sometimes, once that is pointed out to the government, through motion or negotiations, without that evidence, the government’s case weakens so much that they make you a deal you can’t refuse or drop the case completely.
What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?
i. In Florida, crimes are separated by misdemeanors and felonies, and then subdivided into degree and offense level. For a basic understanding, when someone is charged with a misdemeanor, the maximum punishment is typically up to one year in the county jail and a $1,000.00 fine.
a. Driving under the influence (DUI) and some other misdemeanors, have different maximum and minimum penalties associated with them.
ii. IF you are charged with a felony, that means you are facing prison time, meaning any amount of time spent behind bars for longer than one year, all the way up to life in prison.
a. The length and potential mandatory minimum sentences associated with felony arrests all depend on a specific person’s criminal history, charges, whether people were hurt, or what amount of damage was done, etc.
b. A criminal score sheet, prepared by the prosecutor will be the best determination as to what maximum and minimum punishments you specifically are looking at.
Make the Right Legal Decision