Criminal Charges In Florida: Arrest, Indictment, And Other Key Terms
Every Florida criminal case is different, and so there are various circumstances under which you could find yourself facing charges. A key reason for the variances is that there are multiple authorities within the criminal justice system that can charge someone with a crime. Law enforcement, prosecutors, and others have access to different tools for apprehending individuals under the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure. You might be aware of their efforts, but the criminal justice community often conducts operations behind the scenes.
As a result, it is important to understand some of the important terminology used during preliminary proceedings in a Florida criminal case. You can rely on a Florida criminal defense lawyer to handle the details, but some definitions should be useful.
Terminology Covering Criminal Charges
Being “charged” is how a criminal case is launched, and the details depend upon what authority is doing the charging.
Charges by the Prosecutor: The prosecution is the attorney for the government and has the power to press charges in two ways:
- Information: A law enforcement officer may approach the prosecutor with a criminal complaint, i.e., details about an arrest. If the prosecution decides that the facts indicate the presence of criminal activity, the government files charges as “prosecution by information.”
- Indictment: A prosecutor may have details about a crime from police, detectives, and other resources. The government may decide to present these facts to a grand jury to evaluate whether a crime was committed.
Arrests by Police Officers: Police can detain you and take you into custody by placing you under arrest, but they are limited by constitutional law principles in doing so. Law enforcement must first have an arrest warrant signed by a judge, which is supported by probable cause regarding criminal activity. However, police can also make arrests without a warrant if there is sufficient probable cause that a person committed a crime.
Stages in the Criminal Process After Being Charged
Some cases may involve a preliminary hearing to determine the sufficiency of the evidence, but there are additional steps to expect once you have been charged:
- Arraignment, where formal charges are read in court and the judge addresses bail for pretrial release;
- Pretrial motions related to admissibility of evidence, dismissing the charges, and related matters;
- Discovery and depositions; and,
- A trial on the merits.
Note that there are opportunities to discuss plea bargaining and other resolution of the charges at different stages along the criminal process.
Set Up a Consultation with a Florida Criminal Defense Attorney ASAP
Regardless of how you came to face criminal charges, keep in mind that there are many other opportunities to fight the allegations throughout the criminal process. Therefore, it is wise to retain legal counsel as early on in the process as possible. Our team at Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. is prepared to help leverage defense strategies and obtain a favorable outcome. Please contact our firm today to schedule a consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. You can reach our offices in Jupiter, FL by calling 561-626-8880 or visiting us online.