You have the right to presumed innocence.
Knowing your rights during a criminal court case process will help answer many questions. This site contains useful information that may help you during your case. This information is for Pro-se Defendants who want to learn more – This is neither legally informed nor attorney advised. The information provided is Public Information of the Bill of Rights of The United States Constitution. Read through this page and check out our links to find the information you need to be informed.
Your 4th Amendment right protects you from unreasonable searches
Your 8th Amendment right is the right to bail.
Your 5th Amendment right protects you from being a witnesses against yourself
What are your Rights?:
- You have the right to testify on one’s own behalf.
- You have the right to remain silent.
- You have the right to a speedy trial.
- You have the right to a jury trial (in most cases).
- You have the right to use courts’ subpoena power to compel witnesses to testify.
- You have the right to presumed innocence.
- You have the right to cross-examine and confront witnesses.
- FS. Chapter 775-896 – Florida Crimes
- FS. 775.027 – Insanity Defense
- FS. 812.014 – Grand Theft, Robbery
- FS. 322.34 – DWLS Driving while license suspended, revoked, canceled or disqualified
- FS. 784.011 – Assault , Battery, Culpable Negligence
- FS. 741.281 – Domestic Violence
- FS. 948.06 – Violation of Probation or Community Control
Bail is a method to get the defendant home during the trial proceedings. It is not a period of time to argue the merits of the case. Bail is an amount of money used by the court to ensure the defendant comes back to court when required to do so. There are typically two factors the judge considers before setting bail. Any bail argument by the defense attorney must address both parts:
- Is the defendant a danger to the community?
- What is the likelihood the defendant will flee?
In order to get the bail reduced, the defense attorney should do the following:
- Demonstrate the potential crime is not one that the defendant would do again.
- Demonstrate the defendant is not a danger to the community.
- Demonstrate the defendant presents no likelihood to flee. The defense attorney can present this in various ways:
- Character references
- Community support
- Stable employment history
- Memberships in religious or civic organizations
- Surrendering the defendant’s passport
- Agree to electronic monitoring
The court can present several bail release options. These may include:
- Cash Bail. The defendant is responsible for paying the entire amount of the bail to be released and receive this amount back at the completion of all court appearances.
- Release on own recognizance. If the judge is convinced the defendant is not a risk, he or she may release the defendant on his or her own recognizance.
- Surety Bond. The bail agent guarantees to the court that they are responsible if the defendant fails to appear.
- Property Bond. The court records a lien on the property of the defendant to secure the bail amount.
The Difference Between Misdemeanors and Felonies:
The consequences for misdemeanors and felony convictions are entirely different. The defendant must understand which crime he or she has been charged with in order to understand what will happen if convicted.
Generally, a misdemeanor crime is punishable by up to one year in county jail. Misdemeanor trails are held in the state’s lower court, sometimes referred to as Municipal Court. Examples of misdemeanor crimes include drunken driving, disorderly conduct, and shoplifting.
A felony crime is punishable by one year or more in a state prison or a penitentiary. Felonies begin in the state’s lower court system but may move up to the state Superior Court, or higher court. Examples of felony crimes include murder, rape, and armed robbery.
The misdemeanor and felony arraignment processes are virtually identical to one another with one exception. In the misdemeanor arraignment process, a pre-trial in Municipal Court is the next step following arraignment. In the felony arraignment process, the next step is a pre-preliminary hearing or a preliminary hearing.
It is recommended that the defendant receive legal representation prior to arraignment. A public defender may have little time to review the case before arraignment or may not even be assigned the case until arraignment. Preparation is key to a successful defense. A private attorney can meet with the defendant prior to arraignment, review the case, and provide the defendant with step-by-step options prior to the arraignment process.
The majority of all cases end in a plea bargain. Plea bargaining is an excellent way to avoid a potential stiff conviction in favor of an agreed upon lighter conviction. For instance, in a drug possession case, a judge may be convinced to dismiss the charges in return for the defendant’s successful completion of a rehabilitation program. Some judges and prosecutors are open to plea bargaining, whereas others are not. Plea bargaining enables the judges to move cases through the legal process quickly and increase convictions for prosecutors.
This involves a meeting between prosecution and defense. Topics discussed include plea bargain opportunities, strengths and weaknesses of the prosecution’s case, pre-trial motions, and intangible factors of the case such as the defendant’s character and past history.
The judge determines the length and type of punishment at a sentencing hearing. Witnesses are generally allowed to speak, requesting either a lighter or stiffer sentence. The defendant may make a statement to the court. In addition, in some jurisdictions, the court may ask for a report from the probation department prior to the sentencing of the defendant.
After a defendant has been found guilty by way of trial, the defense attorney may request a higher court to review specifically identified flaws in procedure with the possibility of changing the lower court’s decision. It is important to recognize that the appeals process may only begin after the defendant has received the final verdict.
Once the trial has been completed, the facts have been decided. They can’t be changed by an appellate court. The appeals process reviews defects in a procedure of the trial. If the defense attorney can identify substantial improper issues, he or she may be able to win the appeal. These defects in procedure may include any of the following:
- The judge’s instructions to the jury were improper
- The prosecution made improper comments to the jury
- Jury tampering
- Improper introduction of evidence
The expunge process differs from state to state. Expunge is a legal term for sealing the criminal record. By having a criminal conviction expunged, the conviction will be deemed not to have occurred. However, in some cases, even an expunged record is still open for law enforcement purposes. In addition, applicants campaigning for public office or applying for a federal job are required to make their conviction public, even if it was expunged.
Disclaimer for Attorney Resources
This is from excerpts from Miller and Associates (now Imhoff and Associates); criminal defense attorneys (Understanding the Criminal Process from Arraignment to Appeal) booklet. Copyright 2002. All rights reserved.
THIS INFORMATION is not meant to be a substitute for a licensed criminal defense attorney and should not be relied on as such. Any advice presented in this post is general advice meant to assist in a broad scope. Individual cases will vary depending on the specific facts and circumstances specific to the case. Information in this is meant to assist in obtaining favorable results but does not guarantee any outcome. Its goal is to provide basic concepts of the criminal procedure. Because laws and procedures change, please consult with an attorney. Laws and procedures can also be interpreted differently from state to state. Any advice presented in this is not guaranteed.