You’ve Just Been Charged with a Crime: Now What?
If you are facing criminal charges, the police have already deemed that you are the most likely suspect connected to criminal activity. Being arrested was frightening, and you are anxious about your future. What’s next for you?
Arrest and Booking
Unless they caught you in the act of a crime, police may have already collected evidence against you, from witness statements and physical evidence to photos, videos, and more. A warrant issued by a judge and approved by the prosecutor says they have probable cause to believe you are guilty, so you will submit your photo and fingerprints; endure further questioning, be detained for a period of time, and maybe even locked up until your first appearance before a judge (within 24 hours) where you’ll be arraigned.
Within 24 hours of being taken into custody you will be arraigned. Whether you’re facing misdemeanor or felony charges, this will be the first time you appear in court. You’ll be formally informed of the charges and your constitutional rights will be explained, including being presumed innocent until proven otherwise, the right to a trial before a jury of peers, having the right to an attorney, and so forth. You’ll have the opportunity to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Bail and other conditions are decided.
Either side may choose to file motions for the judge to consider before the trial even starts. Sometimes the defense will ask the judge to consider reasons that they believe you should not have to stand trial, or may request that certain evidence be excluded for legal reasons. The prosecution may request a trial date or other issues be addressed. The judge will determine whether there truly is probable cause to proceed with the case. In some situations, a plea deal is offered that the judge will have to weigh in on.
Your guilt must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution if the case goes to trial—which is what happens if charges weren’t dropped and there was no agreement on a plea deal. The trial can be held before a jury, or, if you choose, before only a judge. If you are found to be not guilty, you’re free and clear and cannot be retried on the same charges (double jeopardy). If the final verdict is guilty, a new date will be set for sentencing.
A guilty verdict means a final sentencing report will be submitted to the court that describes the crime and your criminal history, any victim’s statements, and a sentencing recommendation is provided to the judge.
The judge determines the final sentencing based on Florida law.
The Defense You Deserve
Every defendant deserves an aggressive defense by a criminal defense attorney who is dedicated to achieving the best possible outcomes. The Kissimmee criminal defense attorneys at Salazar & Kelly Law Group, P.A. always fight for our clients, regardless of the charges. Contact us for a confidential consultation today.