Bail and Arraignment
For those charged with a crime in Florida, the criminal process can be confusing and overwhelming. Many of the terms lawyers use are not readily understood by those outside the justice system. Read on for more about what to expect after an arrest.
After a person is arrested, typically he is taken to a police station where he will be booked. During the booking process, he will be fingerprinted and photographed, and required to give police other basic information. He will be told generally of the charges against him (although those charges may change), and then may be taken to jail to await an initial hearing.
According to the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, a defendant who is in custody must have an initial hearing before a judicial officer within 24 hours. (Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.130). The defendant is entitled to have his own lawyer present. At this hearing, the judge will decide whether to set bail for the defendant. The court may decide to release the defendant on personal recognizance, set a bail amount that the defendant must post to be released from jail, or deny bail and remand the defendant to custody.
Whether bail is set depends upon several factors, including the crime the defendant is being charged with (bail is not allowed when certain serious offenses are charged), whether the defendant is a danger to the community, and whether he is a flight risk. The judge may consider:
- Whether the defendant lives in the community, and for how long;
- The defendant’s financial resources;
- The defendant’s employment record;
- The defendant’s character and mental condition;
- The defendant’s previous criminal or arrest record; and
- Whether the defendant has previously complied with court appearances.
Bail may also be set with conditions. For example, the judge may restrict the defendant’s ability to travel while on bail, or may order the defendant to avoid contact with certain people. Failure to follow these conditions can result in bail being revoked.
An arraignment is a hearing at which the defendant is formally notified of the charges against him and given the chance to enter a plea. (See Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.160.) Again, a defendant should have his attorney with him at this hearing. The defendant has three plea options:
- A guilty plea is an admission to the charges. Defendant acknowledges that he broke the law and submits to sentencing by the court.
- No contest. A no-contest plea does not admit guilt, but states that the defendant is ready to accept the consequences of the alleged illegal acts in order to have the case resolved. As with a guilty plea, the court will likely impose a sentence.
- Not guilty. With a plea of not guilty, the defendant denies all charges against him. The court will set a future date for additional hearings and trial.
The bail issue may also be revisited at the arraignment.
Consult an Orlando Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are facing criminal charges, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you navigate the process and understand your options. The skilled criminal defense attorneys of The Baez Law Firm represent clients in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and throughout the state of Florida, in a wide variety of criminal matters. Contact us for a consultation today.