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Florida Criminal Process

Being arrested for a crime is an event that starts a process that can sometimes be long and emotionally devastating. When an individual is arrested, he or she will usually have to appear before a judge, attend a preliminary hearing and arraignment, and have it all culminate into a trial where the defendant will fight for his or her freedom. If you have been arrested for a crime, it would be beneficial for you to hire a West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the criminal process and can help you navigate through it successfully.

West Palm Beach Criminal Process Lawyer

Andrew D. Stine passionately serves clients who have been charged with a criminal offense in Palm Beach County, including the areas in and around West Palm Beach, Rivera Beach, Lantana, Wellington, Boca Raton and Lake Worth. Stine has the knowledge necessary to present evidence in favorable way that could possibly lead to the dismissal of your case.

Contact Andrew D. Stine, P.A. at 561.880.4300 to set up your free consultation, so that an experienced West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney can begin fighting for you.

Information Center on the Florida Criminal Process

Arrest or Notice to Appear in Court

The criminal process in Florida is initiated when an individual is arrested or given a notice to appear in court by a law enforcement official. If an individual is arrested, he or she will be taken to the county jail to have his or her picture and fingerprints taken, and will remain in jail until they have made their first appearance in court (usually between 24-48 hours after their arrest).

If the alleged offender is given a notice to appear in court, he or she will be given the date and time at which he or she is to make a first appearance. If the individual fails to appear, an arrest warrant will be issued for him or her, and once arrested, the criminal process will proceed.

Florida First Appearance

At the first appearance, the individual will appear before a judge and be notified of the charges against him or her. The judge will advise the defendant of his or her rights, and determine pretrial release conditions such as bail. If the defendant is granted bail, he or she will have the option of paying to be released from custody until the conclusion of the trial. If the defendant is denied bail, he or she will remain in jail until his or her case has been decided.

Preliminary Hearing

The preliminary hearing is one of the most important steps of the criminal process. In order for the case to go to trial, the prosecution must show that they have enough evidence to prove that a crime has been committed, and that the defendant is the person most likely guilty of it. If the prosecution fails to prove that, the case can be dismissed.

During this hearing, you and your West Palm Beach defense attorney can attempt to weaken or have the prosecution’s case dismissed by filing pretrial motions that can suppress evidence or witness testimonies. These pretrial motions can be especially effective in cases where a particular piece of evidence or witness is the foundation of the prosecution’s case.

Plea Bargaining

If the prosecution is able to prove that they have enough evidence to formally charge you with the crime and bring your case to trial, the process of plea bargaining can be initiated. The goal of plea bargaining is for both sides (the defense and the prosecution) to come to an agreement on what penalties the defendant will face in exchange for a guilty plea.

Often times, an experienced defense attorney can get the prosecution to agree to reduced charges or penalties. However, it is important to note that even if the prosecution comes to an agreement with your defense lawyer, you have the final say. You have the right to refuse any plea agreement, in favor of standing trial.


During the arraignment, the defendant will be formally presented with charges and will be required to enter a plea of not guilty, no contest, or guilty. If the individual enters a plea of not guilty, the criminal process will proceed to trial after the prosecution and defense have been given time to prepare. If the defendant pleads guilty or no contest, the next step in the criminal process will be a sentencing hearing.

Trial and Sentencing

If your case proceeds to trial, you will have the option of a trial by judge or a trial by jury. If you choose to have a trial by judge, the prosecution and defense will present their cases to a judge, and based on the evidence, a judge will make the final decision on your guilty or innocence.

If you choose to have your case tried by a jury, a jury will be selected and the prosecution and defense will present their cases to a jury. After both sides have presented their cases, the jury must come to a unanimous decision on your guilt or innocence. If the jurors are unable to come to a unanimous decision, your case can be retried with a different selection of jurors. If the jury returns a unanimous verdict of not guilty, you will be released from custody. If the jury finds that you are guilty, the criminal process will proceed to a sentencing hearing 14 to 90 days after the verdict.

During sentencing, a judge will access which penalties are required by statute or otherwise appropriate for your offense. He will also listen to arguments made by the prosecution and defense in regards to sentencing recommendations. An experienced defense attorney may be able to argue that mitigating factors are present, which could lead to a reduction in the penalties handed down by the judge.

Assisting You through a Difficult Process

If you have been arrested for a crime in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Greenacres, Boynton Beach, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, Lake Worth, or the surrounding areas contact Andrew D. Stine, P.A.. Attorney Stine is a qualified defense attorney who has a deep understanding of how the criminal process works, and he can use his knowledge to help you maneuver through the process in a way that can give you the best chance of avoiding the most serious penalties associated with your crime.

Contact Andrew D. Stine, P.A. at 561.880.4300 and set up a free consultation to discuss the particulars of your case, and let Stine assistant you through such a difficult process.