If you’ve never been arrested, it can prove an unnerving experience, even if the charge is a minor one, and especially if you’re not guilty of the crime in question. Criminal defense attorneys with Gainesville’s Law Offices of Edwards & Jones explain the process.
First, there are three different ways that you may be arrested in the Sunshine State:
- You’re handcuffed, read your Miranda rights and booked into the local jail;
- You’re issued a Notice to Appear, which essentially is a citation informing you of the charges;
- You receive a Notice of Arraignment, typically delivered via mail, from the State Attorney’s Office.
Once you’re placed under arrest and booked into jail, unless you post bail immediately, you’ll be brought in for your first appearance, at which time a judge will inform you of your charges and possibly sent your bond. Having a criminal defense attorney attend your first appearance can help, in that he or she can argue on your behalf for a bond amount that you or your family can afford to post.
Your case then will go to the State Attorney’s Office for investigation and for determination of whether the crime has been properly charged. During this phase, your criminal defense attorney will communicate with the State Attorney’s Office, lobbying on your behalf for lesser charges or for dropping your charges altogether.
Next is your arraignment, during which you’ll be formally charged with the alleged crime and will have the chance to enter your plea – not guilty, guilty or nolo contendere (no contest). If you plead not guilty at your arraignment, your next step will be a pretrial conference or hearing, at which the State Attorney and will present its evidence against you and your lawyer will counter with evidence in your defense and/or argue that the State Attorney’s offer is unreasonable. Depending upon the complexity of your case and the amount of evidence collected by each party, you may have multiple pretrial hearings. Once the evidence is presented, you will either plea to your charges, or opt to take your case to trial.
It’s advantageous to have a criminal defense attorney working for you as early in the process as possible, from the time of your arrest, or even earlier if you are a suspect in a criminal case – but it’s critical to have one on your side during a trial. The legal process can be a complicated one and trials are won by attorneys who present the most convincing cases. Do not gamble your freedom or your reputation by attempting to represent yourself. If you have been arrested or are facing an arrest warrant, contact a criminal defense lawyer with Gainesville’s Law Offices of Edwards & Jones at (352) 329-3632.