The criminal process in Florida has its own rules, procedures, and terms. These stages are critical for every case and by understanding them, you can better understand the criminal defense team's process.
In general, the criminal process goes follows these key stages:
- Investigation – An officer may begin the investigation or someone may report the crime to the local police for investigation.
- Search Warrant – Once officers have enough evidence, they can then request a search warrant in order to further investigate the scene of the crime and/or collect further evidence. A warrant is not always required, especially if the police have “exigent circumstances” – such as an emergency.
- Interrogation – Before arrest, law officers may interrogate witnesses or even potential suspects to learn more details about the crime.
In order to arrest a person, law enforcement officials must:
- Have probable cause to believe that the person has committed a crime. They can arrest them under suspicion alone and take them into custody.
- Arrest the person if they committed the felony or misdemeanor in front of them.
- Have probable cause to believe that the individual has committed a felony – even if it was not in their presence.
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Complaint and Indictment
This stage is when the officers decide whether or not to file official charges. They will need an official complaint that gets the criminal justice process started.
During this process, the formal presentation of the charges is announced in open court. This can be referred to as a “preliminary hearing” as well. During this arraignment, the charges are read and the defendant can plead guilty or innocent.
Bail is the money that the accused must put forth in order to secure their appearance in court. It is often paid in cash, bail bonds or can be a pledge of property.
Plea Deal or Trial
Your criminal attorney will advise you as to what the risks and benefits are of taking a plea deal. If the prosecution does not offer a deal worthwhile or your attorney does not feel your case should take a plea, then you may go to trial. Here both parties will present their case to a judge or jury and the burden will be on the jury to decide guilt or innocent.
If you are convicted to your plead to your crime, you will likely go through the sentencing process. The judge will consider all of the facts and determine the best sentence, following the guidelines listed in the statutes.
If you are convicted and feel you have grounds for an appeal, then your criminal defense attorney may work to prove your case or request an appeal from the courts.
The criminal process can be extremely complicated. This is why you need the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney by your side.
The attorneys at Farkas & Crowley are here you help you with your criminal case. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.