What Happens when you are Arrested in the State of Florida

You had a bad day or night and you were taken to jail. You then either posted bond or were released “ROR” which stands for “released on your own recognizance”. It is very likely that you were scared and confused. Your first question is: what is going to happen next?

First, the State of Florida is required to file an information against you, unless the case involves a grand jury or can be filed with only the citation written to you by a police officer. Prior to doing this the prosecutors’ office will do their own investigation into the case. If the State determines that the evidence against you is insufficient to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt they may drop your case. Additionally, if there is some legal reason, such as some evidence was seized in violation of your constitutional rights, the State may decline to go forward with charges against you. Please note, the

State of Florida has a limited amount of time to file formal charges against you. If charges are filed, an arraignment date will be set in the courthouse where the crime occurred. (Please see my other post entitled “What is arraignment” for more information). At this arraignment date, you will be told what charges have been filed against you and asked about your ability to pay for an attorney. However, if you have hired an attorney prior to the arraignment date the attorney will often file paper work with the clerk of the court that will allow your presence to be waived at the arraignment date.

After the arraignment, your case will be set for what is often called a disposition date or pretrial date. At this court date the Judge will ask your lawyer and the prosecutor the status of the case. The

Judge will ask whether the case is likely to go to trial or if the case might be worked out prior to trial with a plea bargain between the prosecutor’s office and you and your attorney. If an agreement cannot be reached between the prosecutor and your attorney the case will likely be set for trial. However, some Judges may be willing to hear and accept an offer for a particular sentence made to the court without any agreement from the prosecutor. If no agreement can be reached in your case it will be set for trial.

At your trial, the prosecutor as the representative of the State of Florida will attempt to prove the case against you “beyond a reasonable doubt” to a jury . In some limited circumstances, a judge will hear and become the finder of fact instead of a jury. A trial can last several hours in a minor criminal case, several days, or even several weeks in a complex criminal case.

I hope this summary helps you understand the basic process that takes place after you are arrested. Please remember to seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney for more detailed information about the process.