The arraignment is the first court appearance that you must attend after formal charges are filed against you by the State Attorney’s Office.
Your presence at the arraignment hearing may be waived under certain circumstances, once you retain an attorney. Your defense attorney will enter a plea of not guilty at the arraignment or prior to the hearing. Even if the evidence against you appears to be overwhelming, your attorney is entitled to see all of the evidence before making a decision that will affect the rest of your life.
The pre-trial conference is an informal hearing, also known as a calendar call, status hearing or a sounding hearing. If your case is a misdemeanor, most judges will allow your lawyer to appear on your behalf. During the pre-trial conference, the prosecutor meets with the defense attorney to discuss the case. This gives both sides an opportunity to explore plea bargaining options and to make sure that both sides have exchanged all the evidence, also known as “discovery,” as required by the court.
In some cases, there are pre-trial motion hearings. At these hearings, the defense presents legal arguments generally asking the judge to exclude some or all of the evidence in your case. Witnesses are often called to testify, including the arresting officers, to determine if your detention and arrest were lawful. If the judge rules in favor of your motions, evidence will be suppressed and often the case will be dismissed. If the case is not dismissed after the pre-trial motions, then the case is scheduled for another pre-trial conference.
In most cases, you have the right to a jury trial. Six people from the community will be called upon to make a judgment in your case. After your Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney has reviewed all the evidence in your case with you, you will need to discuss whether trial is the best option. Ultimately, the decision to go to trial is yours.
If you are convicted after trial or after entering a plea, a sentencing hearing is set to determine how you should be punished. In some cases, your attorney can appear on your behalf to enter your plea, and you don’t have to appear for the sentencing.
If you are convicted, you have the right to appeal that verdict. This appeal is taken to the superior court/ the appellate court in the county where the trial was held. You must appeal a judgment against you within 30 days, or you waive the right to appeal.
Don't simply plead guilty to a crime without seeing what an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer can do for you. The initial consultation is free. Call (954) 371-0229!