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Criminal Proceedings

02nd February 2011
By Denmon & Denmon Trial Lawyers in Criminal Law
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The six types of proceedings in Criminal Cases

You, or someone you know, has been arrested. You know that you are going to have to go to court. But When? How often? And what does it mean when you do go to court.

This article attempts to give an overview of the six Most Common Court hearings In Criminal Court. Granted, there are more possible hearings that you may attend, however the six mentioned below are the most common. These six happen in most every criminal case.

ADVISORY (or First Appearance)

If you have been arrested on a misdemeanor that is not domestic related, then the officer who arrested you most likely gave you a bond. If you are able to post that bond, then you were able to get out of jail almost immediately. But what if the officer did not give you a bond? Or what if the bond he gave you was too expensive. What happens then? When do you get to go in front of the judge?

The answer, at least in Florida, is within 24 hours of your arrest. Florida's Constitution requires that you appear in front of a judge within 24 hours of your rest to do two things. First, the Judge will inform you the nature of the charges that you are facing. Second, the judge will set you up on. In Florida, criminal defendants are entitled to a bond except for in murder and other serious cases, violations of probation, and other geek circumstances.

At this first appearance in front of the judge, the Judge will issue you a bond if you do not already have one, assuming you are entitled to one. It may be wise to have an attorney on your behalf even at this hearing so that he can argue for a low bond, or for you to be released on your own recognizance. That means you don't have to pay any money you just have to promise to come back at your next court.


The arraignment court date is your opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges against you. As a practical matter, your criminal attorney will handle this via motion without your presence. Also as a practical matter, your criminal attorney will plead you not guilty at this court date. Even if you're ultimately going to resolve your case down the road, the criminal attorney will plead you not guilty at your arraignment so that he can have more time to analyze your case at to see if any defenses will be applicable in your matter. In doing so, your criminal attorney will ask the judge to set up pretrial hearing date.


The pretrial hearing date is an opportunity for your attorney, the state attorney, and the judge to get together in open court to discuss your case. The defense attorney usually starts the pretrial hearing by letting the judge no where he is at in the discovery process. Often times, the state attorney and the defense attorney will begin negotiations at the pretrial hearing to see if a deal can be struck. The judge, with an interest in moving his calendar along, will ultimately set a trial date if he does not believe that the case is going to get worked out.


In many instances your criminal attorney may believe that there is a legal issue that must be resolved prior to trial. If there is a legal issue that must be resolved, your defense attorney will set suppress or perhaps a motion to dismiss. This usually occurs prior to trial.

At a motion to suppress, your defense attorney argues that some or all of the evidence in your case should be suppressed because of some sort of police or governmental misconduct. Many times, a motion to suppress is a negotiating tactic employed by the defense attorney to leverage you a better deal.

At a motion to dismiss, your defense attorney argues that the judge dismissed the case. This can be because of a lack of evidence, a violation of due process, or a defective charging document.

Your attorney will usually want you present at your motion date. However, your presence can sometimes be waived.


A trial can be conducted in front of a judge or a jury. I trial happens when the defendant and the state cannot agree on a plea bargain. I trial in front of the jury is just like it seems on TV: the defendant gets a jury of his peers who sit in judgment of the facts and determine if the law has been broken. The burden is on the state to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. The presumption of innocence in any criminal trial rests on the defendant. The defendant and his criminal defense attorney get an opening statement , a closing statement, to cross-examine the state's witnesses, and call any witnesses on his behalf.


A specific hearing just for sentencing is usually only found in felony cases. In certain felony cases, a defense attorney and client may agree to plea to the charge with a cap on the maximum penalty possible, set off a hearing to determine the sentence. At this hearing, the defendant made bring doctors, family members, and present other evidence intended to show the judge why you should get a more lenient sentence.

Tampa Criminal Attorney| New Port Richey Lawyer
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