A guide to the criminal process: Part Two

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If you’re being investigated for a criminal act in Florida, or someone you love has been taken into custody, you may be overwhelmed and unsure of what your options are going forward. In addition to consulting a Miami criminal defense attorney as soon as you are notified of a criminal charge, you may benefit from an overview of the process in this state.

In our last blog post, we reviewed the preliminary steps in this procedure – arrest and initial appearance. At this point, a judge will have likely informed you of the charges you face, and determined if you are eligible to post bond.


The next step in the criminal process is the arraignment hearing. This typically takes place within 30 days of your arrest. At this time, you can address the charges directly or, if you have enlisted a Miami criminal defense lawyer, at this time they may enter one of the following pleas on your behalf:

  • Guilty – This plea means you admit to committing the criminal acts in question.
  • Mute – Also known as “pleading evasively,” this is equivalent to a not guilty plea.
  • No Contest – No contest plea means you neither admit to nor deny the allegations. A civil jury generally follows this plea.
  • Not Guilty – Entering this plea informs the court that you deny all allegations made by the prosecution.

Your arraignment is not the time to present evidence in your defense. Depending on the plea you issue, a judge will determine a pretrial and trial date that will give you and your Miami defense attorney time to prepare your case.

However, an arraignment may not be necessary in certain instances. According to Statute 3.170, the following is such a case:

“If the sworn complaint charges the commission of a misdemeanor, the defendant may plead guilty to the charge at the first appearance […] and the judge may thereupon enter judgment and sentence without the necessity of any further formal charges being filed.”

Tomorrow, we will continue to outline the criminal process.

If you face such charges, Scott A. Ferris, Esq. can help. Call 303-377-5500 for a free phone consultation.