There are few processes more confusing than navigating the criminal process, our Tampa Defense Attorneys take pride in walking you through the process. This experience is even more difficult when one attempts to do so without an attorney. We strongly recommend you immediately consult with a Tampa defense attorney after your arrest. Like our criminal attorneys constantly remind people, you wouldn’t try to perform surgery on yourself or fly an airplane to a destination. Attorneys are professionals with a lengthy specialized education, continuing education requirements and strict ethical concerns. Tampa defense attorneys focus primarily on defending those prosecuted with criminal charges throughout Florida.
Your first court date is called arraignment; it’s essentially the beginning of the criminal process. While many misdemeanors are resolved at arraignment, it is generally not advisable to resolve a felony at arraignment without retaining a Tampa defense attorney due to the potential implications. In a felony case, a criminal score sheet will have serious implications on the plea offer in your case. Our blog has other articles regarding a criminal score sheet and the impact of the same. Somewhere between your arraignment and your next court date, you should receive your discovery for the case. Discovery is the evidence the State has against you attempting to prove that you committed the crime. For more information regarding discovery, please review our blog for an article about it.
Your next court dates are referred to by different names, depending on the jurisdiction and/or judge. The hearings are often referred to as disposition hearings, status checks, pretrial hearings, etc. Ultimately, generally pretrial hearings refer only to the hearing immediately prior to the trial to ensure both sides are prepared for trial. At these court dates, the majority of negotiations occur for a potential plea bargain, discovery issues are resolved, motions are discussed, etc. Tampa defense attorneys use these hearings to ensure the case is prepared to be tried, if necessary. The majority of cases resolve at this stage of the case. The majority of criminal judges will permit cases to have several of these hearings to allow the parties to attempt to resolve the case without forcing it to a trial. If the matter proceeds beyond usually about three (3) or four (4) disposition hearings without any end in sight, the court will generally just set the case for trial.
If the matter proceeds to trial, the court will likely set a pretrial hearing or mandatory docket sounding approximately three (3) weeks before the trial date. The court usually does this to ensure the parties will actually be ready for trial on the preset date. Again, the pretrial hearing is solely to ensure both sides will actually be ready for trial. Many criminal judges also begin entering settlement and plea negotiations at this point to try and resolve the case without the time and expense of trial.
Your next court date would be a trial. We have many, many blog articles regarding what to expect at your criminal trial.
If you or someone you know has questions concerning the criminal process, contact the Tampa defense attorneys of Hackworth Law for a free case consultation. We look forward to working with you. We appreciate your time in reading our articles and look forward to hearing from you.