If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense in Florida the best way to be informed is to at least have a basic overview of criminal defense in Florida and to contact a Florida criminal attorney as soon as possible. In Florida, if you are charged with a crime that may be punished with a prison sentence and you can’t afford an attorney one will be chosen to provide your defense.
When a criminal charge is filed, you will appear before a judge for an arraignment. At this time you will be asked how you wish to plead. In Florida, a plea may be either guilty, not guilty, no contest or a mute plea. In Florida, you can stand mute and the court will enter a not-guilty plea on your behalf. If you plead guilty or no contest there is no trial and you will receive an immediate sentence. When the arraignment is taking place, the court will also set bail. The court may also deny bail or release you on your own personal recognizance. This means that the judge trusts that you will show up for your trial. In Florida, should you need to set bail, it can be paid in cash, a property pledge or a bail bond.
Any overview of criminal defense in Florida will explain that as stated under the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, you have a right to a speedy trial. In most cases you also have the right to a jury trial but you may choose to waiver a trial by jury by pleading guilty or choosing a bench trial in which case the judge alone will determine sentence.
If you're found guilty after a trial, you have the right to an appeal. In Florida, you will usually have 30 days following sentencing to file an appeal. There are a number of reasons for an appeal after a guilty verdict including legal errors and misconduct by a member of the jury.
Any overview of criminal defense in Florida will point out that under certain circumstances, it may be possible to have your criminal record discharged. In other words, in most cases the records are no longer available, but if you apply for a job in law enforcement or one that involves contact with children the records may be accessed.