What to Do After an Arrest

After an Arrest

Once you've been arrested, the police are going to take you down to the station for booking, during which time they will take pictures, fingerprints, ask you a series of questions and get your personal identifying information such as your name, home address, and your birth date. You may also be asked to participate in a lineup, or give a sample of your handwriting. Your personal property such as your wallet or purse will be confiscated and you will be held in a holding cell.

If you have been detained, but not booked, you have the right to appear before a judge with 24 hours to determine if you are eligible for pre-trial release. Most people refer to this as "bond" or "bail". Keep in mind that if you are in police custody, you have a constitutional right to a "speedy trial," which usually means that the prosecutor must decide within 48 to 72 hours (depending on the jurisdiction) if they are going to file formal charges against you.

Your Arraignment

Once you've been arrested, you have the right to be arraigned without an unnecessary delay, which is usually within 72 hours of your arrest. At the arraignment, you will appear in front of the judge who will officially inform you of the charges against you. This is an extremely important time to have an attorney from our firm present because after reviewing the facts of your case, we will be able to advise if you should plead guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere ("no contest"). Nolo contendere means that you do not contest the charges made by the government.

If you are placed in jail, there is a possibility that you may be able to get out before your trial if you post bail or if you are released on your own recognizance (ROR). With a ROR, the payment of bail is waived on the condition that you agree to appear in court when it is required of you. If you are allowed to post bail, you will have to front cash, either through your friends or family, or through a bail bondsman. The judge handling your case will decide whether or not bail is required. The purpose of giving bail money to the court is their way of ensuring that you will appear for all of your future court appearances. If you fail to appear in court, the bail money will be kept and you will be re-arrested and put back in jail.

Not all defendants will be allowed bail. When determining whether or not bail will be allowed, the judge will take a number of issues into account such as the nature of the crime, any history of failing to appear at your previous court appearances, whether or not you are a flight risk and whether or not you are a threat to someone or to the community. For those accused of dangerous crimes such as arson, aggravated assault or battery, child abuse or aggravated child abuse, aircraft piracy, kidnapping, manslaughter, homicide, sexual battery and others, the courts will determine whether or not they would be putting the community at risk by allowing bail.

We may want to consider a plea bargain, in which case the prosecutor agrees to a deal where the prosecution offers you an incentive, such as a shorter sentence or reduced charges in exchange for the defendant agreeing to plead guilty.

Trial and Sentencing

In the United States, it's your constitutional right to have a speedy trial. Once you've been arrested and criminal charges have been filed against you, your trial must take place within a reasonable time after your arraignment. You have the right to a trial by jury if you are charged with a crime that is punishable by six or more months of jail time and you also have the right to request a bench trial, which is a trial before a judge instead of a jury.

If you are found guilty in a trial or if you plead guilty, the judge will determine your sentencing and penalties which may include paying a fine, jail or prison sentencing, victim restitution, or probation. On the other hand, the judge may recommend alternative sentencing such as community service or completing a drug rehabilitation program, which is preferred.

After someone is convicted for a crime and sentenced, they have the opportunity to file an appeal. An appeal is not a complete retrial of the case, rather it's an investigation into the trial record in order to ensure that there weren't any errors involved in the trial such as a lack of evidence to support a guilty verdict, jury misconduct, allowing inadmissible evidence, or if there was any newly discovered evidence that may prove the defendant's innocence of the crime in question. Our law firm has tried hundreds of cases since 1978, and we can also handle death row inmate appeals and post-conviction (3.851) motions.

If you've been arrested for a criminal offense in Florida or are facing arrest, contact an attorney from Taylor & Waldrop Attorneys at once!

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