When to Expect: 24 hours after your arrest.
Florida’s Constitution requires that you appear in front of a judge within 24 hours of your arrest. This court appearance is also known as an Advisory. It occurs within 24 hours of your arrest. This court date will not occur if you have already posted bond and have been released from jail.
In certain cases the arresting agency will not give you a bond. For example, if you have been charged with a serious crimes or domestic related crimes, the arresting agency may leave you at a “no bond” status. You cannot be released from jail when you have a “no bond” status. and must await your First Appearance court date for a Judge to address your bond.
When to Expect: Approximately 4 weeks after arrest.
This date generally occurs within 3-4 weeks of your arrest. At this court date, you the judge officially informs you of the charges the state has filed against you or intends to file. You respond that you are either guilty or not guilty of the charge. If you have retained a criminal attorney, her or she will most likely waive your appearance at this court hearing.
If you have not retained an attorney, the court will inquire as to your need for a Public Defender. Many jurisdictions appoint a Public Defender at your Arraignment. Others require you to fill out an application to determine your eligibility. For the appointment of a Public Defender, you will have to swear as to your wages and assets being below a predetermined amount either in court or on your application.
When to Expect: Every 3-4 weeks after the arraignment until case is resolved.
A Pretrial is a court date to determine if you want to enter a plea agreement or need additional time to prepare for a motion. The number of Pretrial court dates depend on the complexity and/or issues involved in your case. Several Pretrial dates may be required so that your attorney can adequately prepare your defense. For example, your attorney may choose to engage in plea negotiations, conduct depositions, file motions and/or prepare for trial. Your attorney may choose to waive your appearance at one or more Pretrials.
The pretrial is also a chance for your attorney to discuss the case with the Prosecutor in person as well as address small problematic issues with the Judge. For example, if the prosecutor is late with his or her discovery obligation (providing your attorney with the evidence being used against you), your criminal lawyer can address it with the Judge at a pretrial.
Motions to Dismiss:
When to Expect: Set by your attorney after discovery is complete.
A motion to dismiss requests complete dismissal of the charge against you in its’ entirety. A motion to dismiss is appropriate when the State Attorney would not be able to prove its case even if the facts as alleged were true.
Motions to dismiss are often done without testimony, but just with argument from the attorney and the prosecutor, with cites to case law. If you win your Motion to Dismiss, the charge against you is dismissed and you will have no other court dates.
Motion to Suppress:
When to Expect: Set by your attorney after discovery is complete
In many cases, the police officers overstep their bounds during the investigation and subsequent arrest process. If they have violated your constitutional rights with an improper search or seizure of you or your property or person, your attorney may file a motion to suppress evidence. In effect, your attorney is asking the Judge to recognize that the police and the State for violated your rights by not allowing them to introduce certain evidence against you at trial. Depending on the illegal conduct, this can damage or even obliterate the State’s case.
Motions to Suppress usually happen before trial. Sometimes judges allow motions to be heard the day of trial. Generally, you are present during your motion hearing.
A trial can be by jury or conducted in from of a judge (bench trial). A trial occurs when an accused individual maintains their innocence and pleads not guilty throughout all court dates leading to trial. Your presence is required at trial. At trial, the state must prove that the accused committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If found guilty, a judge determines a sentence. If the State fails to prove this, the jury or judge will find the accused not guilty and they incur no punishment.
FAQ’s Regarding Criminal Court Dates
Where Is Court, Exactly?
Each County in Florida has specific courtrooms in specific courthouses for criminal matters. Below we have included a map of all the Tampa Bay area (Pinellas, Pasco, and Hillsborough) criminal courthouses
Do I Have to Attend Every Court Date?
In most cases, your criminal defense attorney can get permission for you to miss court while he or she attends on your behalf. Different Judges however have different rules. Be sure to check your lawyer before any court date to see if you will need to attend.