In the State of Florida, you can be arrested one of two ways: One is to be physically arrested and brought to the county jail. The other way is to be issued a notice to appear, which is given by a law enforcement officer in lieu of a physical arrest. The latter requires a person accused of violating the law to appear in a designated court at a specified date and time. Under criminal procedure, the notice to appear is still an “arrest” even though the person is not physically brought to the county jail. Once physically arrested and brought to the county jail, you will appear before a judge within 24 hours for what is called First Appearance.
In accordance to Florida criminal procedure, every arrested person shall be taken before a Judge within 24 hours of their arrest. At First Appearance, the Judge informs the arrestee of the charges they are facing, ensures they have legal counsel and determines conditions of pretrial release including bail.
At First Appearance in State Court, either the Government can request or the Judge can add this condition to bond. A Nebbia hold allows the court to inquire into the source of funds used for the bond. This is often seen in Drug Trafficking or Fraud cases. In these cases, the defendant must show that the funds to be used for bail are from a legitimate source. It must be demonstrated that they were not acquired through illegal activities, or from the profits of a crime such as drug trafficking, money laundering, theft or fraud.
The accused, also known as the defendant, is formally presented with the charges the Government has brought against them. This is where a plea of not guilty is entered which moves the case forward, eventually getting to trial. A plea of guilty at arraignment will result in the case ending and proceeding to sentencing.
This is where the defense and the Government try to come to acceptable terms of a resolution short of trial. This may occur any time after arraignment. Once a plea is accepted, the need for a trial is eliminated.
After a plea of not guilty is entered at arraignment, your case will eventually proceed to trial once all the investigation is done. This includes taking depositions of essential witnesses, listing witnesses if applicable (including experts), and hiring an investigator. Every case is unique, with its own specific set of facts, and will be strategically prepared by your defense team. A jury trial begins with the jury selection process, followed by opening statements, direct and cross examination, closing arguments and then jury deliberations. During deliberations, juries consisting of 6 or 12 members of the public (depending on the charge) decide whether or not the Government has met their burden of proving the charged crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The vote of the jury must be unanimous, which means all 6 or 12 jurors must agree on the same outcome. After deliberation, if the verdict is not guilty, the defendant goes home. If the verdict is guilty, a sentencing date will be scheduled for the court to determine the appropriate sanction. Many times, after a guilty verdict, an accused is remanded (taken into) the custody of the Sheriff’s Office until sentencing.