Here is how a criminal case unfolds:
What does a Pre-Trial Conference entail?
Management of case-related issues
Exclusion of certain pieces of evidence
Identification of witnesses and documents
Identification of strength/weaknesses in the case
Discussion of possible settlement of the case
Issues of facts are decided
The judge imposes sentencing if defendant has been convicted
If there is a legal case for the appeal, the defense may request a higher court to change the lower court’s decision.
Official sealing or destruction of a criminal record
Meaning of “Arraignment”?
An arraignment is the first step in the criminal process after arrest. It is a brief hearing where the defendant is advised of pending charges that have been brought against him/her and bail is set. An arraignment takes place only after the prosecuting attorney decides to file charges and also involves the appointment of a Fort Lauderdale defense attorney for the defendant. A court appointed attorney may not be assigned to the defendant if the charges do not carry the possibility of jail time. In addition, the defendant may not be entitled to a trial by jury. In this case, a judge would try the case.
The Arraignment Process and What the Defendant Should Do?
At this stage, the defendant will appear before a judge and has the choice to appear with or without legal representation. The judge will ask the defendant if he/she wants to plead not guilty. There are very few instances where a defendant would enter a guilty plea at the arraignment. If the defendant decides to plead guilty or no contest he may expect to be sentenced. In any case, it is extremely rare for a case to be dismissed at the arraignment.
At an Arraignment
Usually, the prosecutor will supply the defendant with a written allegation.
The defendant will need to confirm his personal identity.
The defendant may have private counsel present or the court may appoint a Fort Lauderdale defense attorney.
The defendant may be told his possible punishment commensurate to the crime.
In such as case where the defendant is charged with a misdemeanor, the defendant must reply to the charges with a plea of no contest, not guilty or guilty. If the defendant pleads guilty at the arraignment, the judge may sentence the defendant at that time.
Additionally, the judge will set a tentative appearance schedule for the defendant.
If the defendant is charged with a felony, he/she may or may not be required to plead at the initial arraignment. This process varies by state. Also, the judge will schedule the defendant’s tentative preliminary hearing or, instead of a preliminary hearing, a grand jury will be convened to find probable cause.
At this point, bail will be established and the defendant has a right to argue for a bail reduction.
Normally, discovery is given to the defense attorney at which point the police report and complaint will be heard. Depending on the state, discovery may come before or after the preliminary hearing or indictment.
What a defendant should expect from his Ft Lauderdale criminal attorney:
The defense attorney must ethically and energetically defend his client;
The defense attorney should present all options for the defendant;
The defense attorney must review all possible defense scenarios and interview all witnesses and review evidence in support of the client’s case;
The defense attorney must thoroughly explain each step in the legal process to his client;
A theme for the defense should be developed by the attorney. It should include a strong strategy and plan to present reasonable doubt or otherwise protect the client from maximum exposure and punishment.
Misdemeanor versus Felony. What is the difference?
The punishments differ for misdemeanor and felony convictions. It is important for a defendant to know the difference between these two charges and to know which type of crime he has been charged with.