Preliminary Criminal Proceedings
The First Appearance When the defendant is arrested and brought to jail, the defendant is entitled to a first appearance hearing. Here, the defendant is entitled to be represented by counsel. During the hearing, a judge informs the defendant of the charge, determines whether there is probable cause to detain the defendant in jail, what the bond amount, if any, will be.
The Arraignment After a defendant is arrested, taken to jail, and receives a first appearance before a judge to determine whether there is probable cause to hold the defendant for the alleged crime and determine if the defendant may get out of jail on a reasonable bail bond, the defendant is required to appear for an Arraignment.
The Arraignment is a court appearance where the defendant comes before a judge and is formally advised of the criminal charges lodged against him or her. In Florida the defendant is informed of the charges through a charging document called an Information. At the Arraignment, the defendant must enter a plea with respect to the charges against him or her. The defendant may plead: guilty, not guilty, no contest, or not guilty by reason of insanity. Careful consideration of how to plea must be given because if a plea of not guilty is made on the record, it cannot be withdrawn until one of the later criminal hearings on the case after the Arraignment. Prior to accepting a guilty plea, the trial judge must ascertain whether the guilty plea is given in a free, voluntary, knowing, and intelligent manner. Pretrial Motions Both sides may file pretrial motions. These motions involve issues that need to be decided before the commencement of a defendant's trial. Some examples of pretrial motions are:
Defendant's competency to stand trial.
Disqualification of a judge or recusal of a judge.
Severance of defendants or charges.
Suppression of evidence.
Violation of one of defendant's Sixth Amendment rights.
Transfer the case to another venue or jurisdiction.
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