Convicted of a Crime

The stages of your criminal case.

First Appearance

When a person is arrested for a new crime, there are certain cases where bond is a predetermined amount. For example, a simple first DUI is $500. When the Defendant is arrested for a new crime for which there is no bond set, the Defendant is required to appear before a “judicial officer” within 24 hours of his or her arrest. The purpose of the hearing is to inform the Defendant of his or her right to remain silent, right to counsel, appoint counsel if necessary and to determine the conditions of pretrial release.

Pretrial Release

Conditions of pretrial release and bail are usually determined at the first appearance. There are limited circumstances in which the Judge can deny bail.

Filing Charges

Except for capital crimes, which require an indictment by a grand jury, the majority of criminal cases in Florida are charged by the filing of an “Information” by the State Attorney. It is a common misconception that charges are filed when an individual is arrested. This is not the case. Charges are usually filed well after an individual has been taken into custody.

The Arraignment

This is the day the Judge will tell you what the State of Florida has charged you with. This is usually within 21 days after the charges are filed. The Court will want to hear your plea: guilty, not guilty or no contest. Everyone knows what guilty and not guilty means. No contest is what is called a plea of convenience; it means you wish to accept the State’s offer and to end your case immediately; however, you are not admitting to committing the crime. This is NOT the time to tell the Judge what happened or did not happen. Always remember, you are being recorded in the Courtroom and what you say can and will be used against you at later proceedings.


This is a packet containing all of the State’s evidence against an individual. The State must present the Defendant with discovery in order for the Defendant to properly prepare his or her defense. After the filing of an information, the State has 15 days from the demand for discovery to produce this packet for the defense.