Criminal Attorney in Jacksonville
Serving Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, and clients throughout Florida
A crime by definition is an offense committed against the State. This means that the State of Florida has to bring criminal charges against a person for violating a Florida law that the Florida Legislature has decided is a criminal offense.
For example is that if Bob punches Joe in the nose, even though Joe was the one who was hit, the crime is against the State of Florida. Joe cannot hire a private attorney to bring criminal charges against Bob. That decision is up to various players in the criminal justice system. Joe may call the police who arrested Bob.
The State Attorney’s Office then decides whether to prosecute Bob for the crime of Battery. Joe may not want Bob prosecuted and may ask that Bob’s charge be dropped. The State Attorney does not have to drop the charge just because Joe asked them to do so. The State can proceed against Bob because the crime of battery was committed against the State of Florida.
So, with that basic example let’s generally walk through the process of a criminal case in the system.
Starting a Criminal Case
Usually, a criminal case begins with an official arrest. A police officer can only arrest for a misdemeanor offense if the crime was committed in his or her presence. However, there are exceptions under Florida law which allows an officer to arrest for misdemeanors which did not occur in his or her presence.
On the other hand, an officer can always arrest for a felony if he or she has probable cause to believe that the felony occurred and that the person he or she arrests is the one who committed the felony.
Sometimes an officer learns of an incident and instead of deciding whether or not he or she has probable cause to make the arrest, the officer presents the facts of the case to a judge. Then, the judge makes the decision whether there is probable cause for an arrest.
If there is probable cause, then the judge will issue an arrest warrant.
After an arrest, the individual is then booked in jail. The booking process involves fingerprinting, photographing, and performing a background check for any outstanding warrants. The arrested individual will then visit a judge within 24 hours of the arrest. The judge will review the police officer’s arrest report and determine whether or not there is probable cause for detainment. If the individual is entitled to a bond, then one will be set.
The Difference Between Felonies and Misdemeanors
For a felony case, after the judge determines whether to set a bond or whether there is probable cause for detainment, then the case is passed along for a court date in Circuit Court. If you bond out, then you and your attorney will appear in court on the assigned date. However, if you remain incarcerated, then the Sheriff will bring you from the jail to the courthouse for your court date.
A misdemeanor arrest is a little different. If the Judge at First Appearance is the Judge who will be assigned to handle your case, then he or she may allow you to enter a plea of guilty or no contest and dispose of your case.
What Happens between First Appearance and Arraignment?
After your first appearance, the State Attorney reviews your case to determine the charges that will be brought against you (if any). This is a great time for your attorney to contact the State Attorney to drop charges, add charges, and amend charges or lower charges. Your lawyer may be able to present things to the State Attorney to assist them in their decision.
Arraignment is your first court date after you have been charged with a crime. Usually, your attorney is given the “Information” which is the legal name for the charging paperwork. You then enter a plea of not guilty, guilty or no contest to the charges. Often a plea of not guilty is entered to allow you to investigate the evidence against you. This investigation is called the discovery process.
Degrees of Crimes
In Florida, a “felony” is a crime punishable by death or more than 1 year in a state penitentiary or correctional facility. A “misdemeanor” is an offense punishable by 1 year or less imprisonment in a county correctional facility.
From the most severe to the least severe crimes in Florida are listed as follows:
- Capital felony – punishable by death or life imprisonment
- Life felony – life imprisonment or up to life imprisonment depending on the crime
- First-degree felony – up to 30 years imprisonment with some exceptions for life imprisonment
- Second-degree felony – up to 15 years imprisonment
- Third-degree felony – up to 5 years imprisonment
- First-degree misdemeanor – up to 1 year in jail
- Second-degree misdemeanor – up to 60 days in jail
We Understand Criminal Law and How to Defend Our Clients
When someone is faced with criminal charges, they need a law firm that understands how to navigate the complex criminal justice system here in Florida. We provide our clients with legal counsel, advice, and your best interests are always at the forefront of our operations.
Contact a Criminal Attorney
Please contact one of our Criminal Law attorneys for details regarding your case.
What constitutes a personal injury?
The most common personal injury is an auto accident, but the broad definition encompasses any situation where a person suffers harm due to the negligence of another person or entity. Early identification of a personal injury is important to the legal process. Many serious injuries occur each year involving:
– Auto accidents
– Premises liability accidents such as injuries caused by a slip and fall
– Medical malpractice/nursing home injuries
– Wrongful death
– Work-related accidents
– Animal attacks
– Faulty or malfunctioning products (product liability)