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Just arrested, accused of a crime, now what? First Appearance and Arraignment

Arrests and the resulting criminal accusations happen every day. Common questions are how can they arrest when there are conflicting stories or can they arrest for whatever just happened. Unfortunately, that is the wrong question. If someone was just arrested, then the answer is yes the cops can and in fact they did just make that arrest. Now the accused has to defend themselves but the only place that happens is at a trial and that will not be for several months.

The confusing thing for people not accustomed to dealing with the system is what to do immediately after an arrest. Many times the quicker your defense team starts working on investigating and preserving evidence the better the case will turn out for the defendant. You should hire a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

The first thing that happens after an arrest is that issues of pretrial release and bond are determined. There may be a bond schedule, otherwise the person just arrested has to go to "First Appearance". In Florida, First Appearance is the morning after arrest and the only thing determined is whether there is a bond and how much. Things considered by the court at First Appearance are ties to the community, criminal history and the accused's prior record of appearing in court. First appearance is not where you fight the case, it is only to determine pretrial release or bond.

The next court date is the "Arraignment". The Arraignment is to formally advise a person as to the charges filed so that the accused can enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. This is also not where you fight the case. The only thing the judge wants to hear is guilty, not guilty, or no contest. A lawyer can have the Defendant's presence waived or excused meaning a person represented by a lawyer may not have to waste a day in court. A person who pleads guilty or no contest may be sentenced immediately or on another day. A person who pleads not guilty will have a chance to review the evidence against them and to have a trial at a later date. Only after the entry of a not guilty plea will the court actually set the case for trial. Trial is where defenses can be presented.

The arrest of a loved one creates a lot of questions. The best way to have questions answered is to hire an experienced criminal attorney. The judge cannot give legal advice, the prosecutors represent the state not the accused, and a public defender may not be assigned until after arraignment which can be several weeks after an arrest and after evidence is already lost. Please click, call or fill out the form at the upper right to speak with a lawyer about the case

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