Stages of a Criminal Case

In Broward County, FL, any felony or misdemeanor case has many stages. The job of a criminal defense attorney is to mount a zealous defense during each stage of the case.

We are experienced in negotiating with the prosecutors in the State Attorney's Office in Broward County, FL. By explaining all of the mitigation in the case and the ways the charges can be fought aggressively in court, the prosecutor might agree to drop or reduced the charges to a less serious offense.

When an acceptable pre-trial result cannot be negotiated with the prosecution, your attorney needs to be ready to file and litigate all viable motions and prepare the case for trial.

Call the criminal defense attorneys in Fort Lauderdale, FL, at Bacchus Law Firm to discuss your case. We can help you understand the most effective way to fight the charges at each stage of the case.

Criminal Case Stages in Broward County, FL

The stages of a criminal case in Broward County, FL, include:

  • First Appearance
    • Within 24 hours after an arrest, a person in custody must be brought to court to appear in front of a judge who can inform the person of the reason they are being detained and determine if there is probable cause for the arrest.
    • The judge also determines the amount of bail that can be posted and whether the public defender's office should be appointed if the person is indigent and unable to afford a private criminal defense attorney.
  • Filing of Formal Charges
    • After the arrest for felony charges, a prosecutor with the State Attorney's Office has 21 days to decide whether or not file any charges, or whether to file serious charges or file more serious charges.
    • Criminal defense attorneys in Broward County, FL, call this stage fo the case the "pre-file" investigation stage.
    • During the pre-trial investigation, the attorney works to convince the prosecutor not to file charges or only to file less serious charges.
  • Arraignment
    • After a person is formally charged, the person is brought before the court to be read the formal charge, and to enter a plea or "guilty" or "not guilty."
    • If the defendant is indigent and the public defender has not yet been appointed, the judge will inquire about whether appointing the public defender is appropriate at the arraignment.
  • Calendar Call
    • At the calendar call, the prosecutor and the criminal defense attorney meet with the judge assigned to the case to determine if both sides are ready to proceed to trial.
    • When appropriate, the court will set a trial date during the calendar call.
  • Status Conference
    • At the status conference, the court will confer with the prosecutor and defense attorney to learn more about any pre-trial issues in the case that need to be decided before a jury is selected or the trial begins.
  • Trial
    • At the trial, the prosecutor must bring sufficient evidence for the case to proceed to a final determination by the fact-finder of a guilty or not guilty verdict.
  • Plea
    • In some cases, the defendant will decide to enter a plea instead of proceeding to trial. The court must determine whether the plea is free and voluntary.
  • Sentencing
    • If the defendant enters a plea or if the defendant is found guilty at trial, then the court proceeds to trial. In a felony case, the court reviews the sentencing guidelines and any plea agreement before imposing the sentence.

This article was last updated on Thursday, November 9, 2017.