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lawyer FAQs


What happens when someone is arrested?

When you are arrested, you will be given an opportunity to post bond or, in most circumstances, you will have to wait for your first appearance in front of a judge.


What happens at first appearance?

A magistrate or a judge will review the probable cause affidavit written by the arresting officer and determine if you were lawfully arrested. If the judge finds that you were lawfully arrested, he will determine whether to set a bond or release you.


How is bond determined?

Typically, the court determines the amount by consulting a schedule of bond and/or considering the specific facts of your case.


Do I need to hire an attorney for a bond hearing?

It depends on each case. If you feel that you were unlawfully arrested or there are circumstances of your arrest that you think a judge should hear, it’s best to hire an attorney. Since everything is recorded at these hearings, you may say something that can be used against you, making it advisable to have an attorney speak on your behalf. Also, an attorney can assist you in getting a lower bond amount, making posting bond more affordable.


What is the meaning of release on own recognizance (ROR)?

When a judge releases you on your own recognizance, it means you don’t have to pay a bond to be released and there are no conditions to your release.


What is pretrial release?

Any outcome other than incarceration before your case is resolved is technically a form of pretrial release. However, this term is most often used to describe a release where the court imposes conditions on your liberty. These conditions might be quite lenient, such as regularly contacting a pretrial officer by phone weekly. However, they can also be quite strict, requiring conditions such as drug testing and/or confinement to your home for the life of the case. You may also be ordered to submit to GPS monitoring (wearing an ankle bracelet) as a condition of pretrial release. The degree of restrictiveness of your pretrial release usually depends on the facts and circumstances of your case.  An experienced criminal defense attorney can often help you lessen the restrictions placed on you as a result of being placed on pretrial release.


What is SOR?

SOR is the same as pretrial release, but it is referred to as SOR (supervised own recognizance) in certain counties like Palm Beach.


What happens if I violate pretrial release?

The court will likely hold you with no bond until the case ends.


Do I need to hire an attorney for a violation of pretrial release?

Since a violation of pretrial release could mean that you will remain incarcerated until the end of the case, and a violation of pretrial release requires an evidentiary hearing, it is advisable to be represented by a skilled attorney.


What is arraignment?

Arraignment is the official beginning of a case in criminal court after the prosecutor has filed charges against you. Even though you were arrested or a police officer gave you a notice to appear, arraignment is when the court informs you of the specific charges you face and gives you an opportunity to respond guilty, not guilty, or no contest.


Can I take a plea at arraignment?

Procedurally, you may accept a plea at arraignment, but that is often not advisable without the counsel of an attorney. An attorney will review the evidence and advise you whether accepting a plea is in your best interest.


Do I have to appear at arraignment?

Unless you have retained an attorney, you MUST be present at your arraignment. Failure to do so will most likely result in the judge issuing an arrest warrant against you. However, if you retain an attorney prior to your arraignment, the attorney can often waive your appearance from arraignment.


What is a calendar Call?

A calendar call is a type of status hearing where the Judge asks the parties in the case (State Attorney and defense) whether they are ready for trial or some other resolution of the case. If the parties are both ready for trial, the case will be set for trial shortly after the calendar call (usually within a week or two). If either party is not ready to proceed to trial at the calendar call, the attorney will file a motion to continue the case and the judge decides whether to grant a continuance of the trial depending on the reasons.


What is a sounding?

Sounding is another name for calendar call, usually used in Miami Dade courts.


What is discovery?

Discovery is the process where the parties share evidence and other substantive information to the other party. In a criminal case, the state usually provides discovery, which usually includes the information (charging document), police reports, audios, videos, and other evidence to prove the guilt of the defendant, within 15 days of the information being filed. The defense also has a duty to provide evidence and a list of witnesses to the State. Discovery is usually not provided in Federal courts.


What is “information” or “indictment” in criminal court?

The Information is the charging document. You can be charged by information or indictment. Indictment means that you were charged by a grand jury. A grand jury is used to file charges in serious state cases and in most Federal cases.


What should I do when the police are holding my property after an arrest?

You would need to file a motion for return of property with the court. Depending on the reason the police are holding the property, the judge will decide whether you are entitled to have your property returned to you or the rightful owner.


What is probation?

Probation means that you have pled guilty or no contest to a charge and you are being supervised by the court to make sure you complete any conditions imposed and that you do not commit other crimes.


What happens if I violate probation?

Violation of probation is a serious charge. If the court finds that you have violated probation, you could be sentenced up to the statutory max on your charge.


What is an infraction?

An infraction is a non-criminal violation of the law. If you are charged with an infraction, you liberty is not threatened and you would only have to pay a fine or complete a condition imposed by a court.


What is a misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a less serious criminal charge, relative to felonies. However, being charged with a misdemeanor means you face up to 364 days in county jail.


What is a second-degree misdemeanor?

If you are charged with a second-degree misdemeanor, you face up to 60 days in jail or 6 months of probation.


What is a first-degree misdemeanor?

If you are charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, you face up to one year in jail or probation.


What is a felony?

A felony is any criminal charge that carries the possibility of incarceration for more than one year in state prison.


What is a third-degree felony?

If you are charged with a third-degree felony, the statutory maximum is five years in prison.


What is a second-degree felony?

If you are charged with a second-degree felony, the statutory maximum is fifteen years in prison.


What is a first-degree felony?

If you are charged with a first-degree felony, the statutory maximum is thirty years in prison. However, if you are charged with a life felony or a capital felony, you face up to life in prison or death.


What is the meaning of no contest?

It means that you do not want to fight the case and that, although you are not admitting guilt, you have reached a resolution with the State of Florida to end the case. Such a resolution means you will have a criminal record even if you do not admit guilt and you were not convicted.


What is the difference between adjudication and withhold of adjudication?

If you receive a withhold of adjudication, that means you are not convicted of the crime. Therefore, you will still retain your civil rights, such as your right to vote or lawfully possess a firearm. Further, receiving a withhold of adjudication may also prevent you from having your driver’s license suspended, which happens automatically when you receive an adjudication for most drug offenses. However, when you receive a withhold of adjudication, you will have a criminal record, but you can often apply to have that record sealed.


Should I seal or expunge my record?

Because you can only do this once in your life, it is best to discuss the benefits of sealing or expunging your particular arrest or criminal record with an experienced lawyer. Please call us for a free consultation.

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