Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Basics of Criminal Procedure in Florida

While there may be similar elements, court proceedings generally differ from one state to the next, and the rules of criminal procedure is no different. This governs the process of litigating criminal cases, from the arrest all the way to conviction and beyond (such as in the case of appeal). Below are some basic facts about Florida’s criminal procedure.

Arrest and Arraignment

Florida criminal procedures may begin with either an arrest of, or a summons to, the defendant. Those who have been arrested and booked in jail will make their first appearance before the judge at least 24 hours after the case. It is here where probable cause is determined. About thirty days after the arrest, the defendant will then be arraigned, where the charges against him will be read.

Pretrial to Negotiations

The prosecutor will then be tasked with proving to the court whether the case will be set for trial, continued or set for plea. He is then to prepare and submit documentation called discovery (the state’s evidence against the accused) to the defendant, and the latter is given time to prepare a plea negotiation or bargain.

Criminal Trial

In the formal trial, the defendant’s case is heard before “a jury of his peers”, as is the established constitutional right. A sentence is then come upon should the jury declare the accused innocent or guilty. Remember that in criminal cases, a person can only be convicted if there is an absence of “reasonable doubt” as to his guilt.

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