What Happens if You are Charged With a Felony Offense?
It can be a frightening and worrying experience if you have just been arrested for the first time, especially if you don’t believe you committed a crime. The first thing you should do is to ensure you have good representation by an experienced and dedicated criminal defense attorney. If you have been arrested for any type of felony offense this is not the time for complacency or belief that you can talk your way out of it.
Every state makes a distinction between those crimes that are less serious and those that are considered more serious. The less serious offenses, like public drunkenness, or speeding, are misdemeanors; the more serious, like rape, robbery and assault are felonies.
If you are convicted for a felony offense in Florida, you would be normally be sentenced to at least a year in a state prison and pay a larger fine than for a misdemeanor, amongst other penalties.
Before you are convicted or your charge is dismissed, there is a specific series of steps involved in the process of deciding whether you are guilty or not.
To begin with, there must be a reason why your actions, your property or your body are investigated by police. Unless you are actually seen to be carrying out a crime, such as a robbery, or assaulting someone, police must obtain a warrant to search your home, car or you personally. They cannot do this unless they have sufficient reason to convince a judge that it is worthwhile in pursuing a possible crime.
If police officers have reason to believe that you have committed a crime, such as driving while intoxicated, then they will arrest you.
It is at this point that your Miranda rights will be read out to you. These give you the right to remain silent and have an attorney present while being questioned. Police will normally take you to a police station to register you arrest. This will include photographing you and fingerprinting you.
For a felony charge against you, you would normally be kept in jail until your arraignment. This should take place in the first 3 days after arrest and will be your first appearance in court. Depending on the exact circumstances, your attorney will advise you to make one of the following pleas; guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
A guilty plea means that you agree that you committed the crime you have been alleged to have done. Your attorney may be able to reduce the potential penalties by negotiating a plea bargain with the prosecution. This may be agreed to as it saves the state time and money going through the motions of a trial.
A not guilty plea means that you are contesting the idea that you are guilty of the alleged crime. A trial date will then be arranged, normally within 175 days of your arrest. You may be able to be released if the judge allows bail to be paid. This depends on your past criminal history, if any and the offense you have been alleged to have committed. Release pending a trial comes with restrictions on your movements amongst other conditions of bail.
Before the trial, your attorney will attempt to prepare a case which demonstrates your innocence or at least challenges the evidence o assumptions that have been made about you by the prosecution. At the trial the judge and jury will listen to both your defense attorney and that of the prosecution and come to a decision about whether they believe that you are guilty or not. You would have 30 days after a decision to file an appeal.
If arrested for any criminal offense, make sure you get an experienced and aggressive attorney to represent you. In Miami, contact the Law Firm of Albert Quirantes Esq. at 305-644-1800.
Albert Quirantes: Your Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer & DUI Lawyer
For over 30 years, Miami criminal defense attorney Albert M. Quirantes has been aggressively and zealously defending the rights of those accused of felony and misdemeanor crimesthroughout South Florida. With his dedicated team, reasonable legal fees, and a well-earned reputation for challenging prosecutors at every turn, he has protected over 8,000 clients during some of the roughest times of their lives.
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If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, please call us today at (305) 644-1800 or fill out our online form to arrange for your free, confidential initial consultation.
If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: (305) 644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.