Facing Florida criminal charges is a stressful situation to go through. You should educate yourself about the process of a criminal trial to calm your nerves by knowing how it unfolds.
Appearing before the judge
Criminal procedure in Florida requires that people see a judge within 24 hours of their being taken into custody. An exception would be if they posted bond. During the first appearance before a judge, the judge informs you of your charges and your rights. They might also lower your bond.
Filing of criminal charges
If there is sufficient evidence, a state attorney files criminal charges. Florida mails you a notice when this happens. When the state attorney doesn’t file charges against you, they submit a formal document declaring that the state isn’t filing charges.
Victim impact/restitution statement
The state attorney sends a victim impact/restitution statement to all victims. This document allows victims to share the extent of the damages they have endured as a result of your crime. In some cases, the state provides victims with compensation to help them overcome financial hardship.
You must attend an arraignment, where the court will formally inform you of your charges and your right to an attorney. If you’re not able to afford an attorney, then the judge may appoint you one from Public Defender’s Office. Victims have the right to attend your arraignment, although it’s not a requirement for them to do so.
The defendant’s attorney will conduct a deposition in which they interview the witnesses and victims under oath. They record the interview and may use it in court.
The state and defendant’s attorneys work together to select an unbiased jury. Then, the trial begins with an opening statement from the prosecutor. They present their side of the case first and call witnesses to the stand for direct examination. Your attorney may cross examine the witnesses afterwards. After your attorney has finished with presenting your side of the case, both attorneys make a closing argument. The closing argument is a summary of the facts. Then, the judge instructs the jury to reach a verdict based on the evidence. In order to convict you, the jury must come to an unanimous agreement.