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A Brief Guide to the Arrest Process in Florida

The criminal arrest process can be confusing and overwhelming. If you have a loved one going through this procedure now, you may wonder what to expect next and how you can help. Below is a brief overview of what happens immediately after someone is arrested in Florida.

1. The Arrest

The arrest itself is the most well-known aspect of this process. You are detained, often with the use of handcuffs. Most often, an officer makes an arrest while you are being investigated or just after an officer believes he has witnessed a crime being committed, but not always. You can also receive a “Notice to Appear” (a citation), which requires you to appear on a specific date or requires you take the citation to the Clerk of Court and request a court date. If you do not appear, then a warrant for your arrest will likely be issued. Once detained, you will be transported to a facility for further processing.

Keep in mind that just because you are arrested does not mean that you will be formally charged. The State Attorney’s Office has to decide to charge you with a crime. You always have the right to remain silent, and you should request an attorney immediately.

2. Booking

You will first be transported to a booking location. This location is often the site of the county jail, but not always. As part of this process, they will take your picture and inventory anything you have on you at the time of the arrest. Both the arrest and booking will occur on the same day. You should get a phone call. You will have to call collect. Most cell phones are not equipped for collect calls. Write down your lawyer’s phone number (904-285-4LAW) now and memorize it, because the police will take your phone away with all your contact numbers in it. Call Malcolm Anthony and he will know what to do. He takes collect calls from the jail 24/7. Then, you wait.

3. The First Appearance

Ideally, you will be bailed out of jail on the first day that you are there. However, some offenses are not bailable before you see a judge. if you are unable to bail out, you will appear before a judge within 24 hours of your booking. This first hearing is referred to as a “First Appearance.” The judge will review the amount set for your bond and adjust it as necessary. It is often lowered at this time, and you can definitely request that it be reduced as well. The judge will also advise you of your charges and any restrictions related to your bond as well.

Some jurisdictions treat this “First Appearance” as an arraignment for misdemeanor cases informing you that a plea of guilty, no contest, or not guilty is necessary. The courts or the prosecutor may even make an “offer” telling you what your sentence will be if you plead guilty or no contest. It is made to sound attractive because if you plead guilty or no contest and there is no more jail time, you realize you will be released but if you plead not guilty a bail will be set, and fear of staying in jail can prompt you to accept a plea deal at “First Appearance.” Do not plead guilty or no contest out of fear of not making bail. The bail will be reasonable. Remember, your case is over if you plead guilty or no contest. You will not be able to challenge anything about the case if you plead guilty or no contest. In order to fight the charge or the proposed sentence, you must plead NOT GUILTY.

The best way to handle “First Appearance” is to inform the judge you wish to hire a private lawyer. Tell him you will hire Malcolm Anthony as your lawyer. The judge will set a reasonable bail and you will be able to contact your lawyer.

4. Post Bail and Talk to Your Lawyer

Hopefully, you will be able to post bail and get out of jail shortly after the First Appearance. If a friend or family member cannot help you make bail, then you may be able to make contact with a bail bondsman to help. Instead of having to pay the entire bail amount, you pay a bail bondsman 10% of the bail as a fee and he posts a bond for your bail to get you out.

If you have not called your lawyer already, now is a good time to do that. Malcolm Anthony has represented hundreds of clients in the Jacksonville area and all of North Florida, and he can talk to you about your situation too. Call 904-285-4529 (4LAW) to set up an appointment.

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