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Criminal Process Chart (Free Download)

Criminal Process Chart (Free Download)

Criminal Process Chart (Free Download) 1920 1080 Leppard Law - Top Rated Orlando DUI Lawyers & DUI Attorneys in Orlando

Here are the various processes involved in a criminal case, including the steps, whether or not to move forward with a motion to suppress, as well as what to expect at your plea hearing and your trial. Want to download a free copy of the official Criminal Process Chart PDF from Leppard Law: Florida DUI Lawyers & Criminal Defense Attorneys PLLC? No problem — click here!

Steps In A Florida Criminal Case

ARREST / NOTICE TO APPEAR

This marks the beginning of your criminal case. If an officer has probable cause to believe you have committed a crime, he can make an arrest and file the case with the Clerk of Court.

Sometimes an officer may give you a Notice to Appear in lieu of an arrest, which informs you that you are being charged with a crime and sets a court date.

Arraignment (Usually Waived)

At arraignment, your charges are formally read to you and you must enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. We will usually waive arraignment and simply file a written plea of not guilty.

This means that your arraignment is cancelled and you don’t need to attend.

DISCOVERY

At the beginning of your case we will file a notice of appearance and demand for discovery (evidence known to the prosecutor), which the prosecutor is required by law to disclose. The prosecutor must also disclose any evidence that could help establish your innocence.

It can take up to several months to receive all the discovery from the prosecutor and often times extends over several pretrial conferences.

PRETRIAL CONFERENCES

Between the beginning of the case and its resolution are pretrial conferences, where your attorney, the prosecutor, and the judge will discuss your case status.

MOTIONS

As the case progresses, we will file motions to prepare your case and sometimes pressure the prosecutor to drop your case. A motion simply asks the judge to make a decision or take a certain action on your case.

Here are some examples of motions:

  • A motion to suppress will try to get evidence thrown out if it is the product of an illegal search, seizure, or confession.
  • A motion to dismiss tries to get the case dropped because you cannot be prosecuted: e.g., the prosecutor does not have enough evidence to prove you committed a crime, you were granted immunity, or double jeopardy applies.
  • A motion to compel asks the judge to order the prosecutor to turn over any outstanding discovery.

PLEA DEAL

There will always be ongoing negotiations for a plea deal that is acceptable to you, right up until trial begins. But if the prosecutor’s offer is unacceptable or you choose to fight your case, we will be prepared to go to trial on your behalf.

TRIAL

As an alternative to taking the plea deal, you also have the option of taking the case directly to trial where a prosecutor has to prove you are guilty.

PLEA DEAL

There will always be ongoing negotiations for a plea deal that is acceptable to you, right up until trial begins. But if the prosecutor’s offer is unacceptable or you choose to fight your case, we will be prepared to go to trial on your behalf.

OR…

TRIAL

As an alternative to taking the plea deal, you also have the option of taking the case directly to trial where a prosecutor has to prove you are guilty.

Should I Move forward with a Motion to Suppress?

RISKS & REWARDS TO CONSIDER

If the motion to suppress is granted, you can have your entire case dismissed or receive a better plea offer. Even if all of the prosecutor’s evidence isn’t thrown out, the prosecutor may offer a better plea deal after the motion is heard. But it cuts both ways: If the court denies the motion, the prosecutor could also revoke the plea offer or add more sanctions.

The Motion to Suppress Hearing

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The point of the motion to suppress is to throw out any evidence that was obtained as a result of a violation of your constitutional rights. At the hearing, we and the prosecutor will present evidence and argue whether the officers violated your rights. The judge will then issue an order throwing out all, some, or none of the evidence.

WHAT IS THE HEARING ABOUT?

A motion to suppress tries to have evidence thrown out that police obtained in violation of your constitutional rights. For example, the motion may challenge evidence or statements you made that are the product of an illegal traffic stop or illegal questioning.

The point of a hearing on a motion to suppress is not to see whether you are guilty, but to determine whether the police violated your constitutional rights—the focus is on what the officers did, not what you did. The judge will then decide whether the prosecutor will be allowed to show the evidence to the jury.

EVIDENCE IS PRESENTED

At the beginning of the hearing, we and the prosecutor will present evidence to the judge. The evidence will usually come from questioning witnesses and playing any video footage the officers took on the scene.

ARGUMENT

Once all of the evidence has been received, we will then argue what the facts are based on the evidence and why the facts show that your constitutional rights were violated.

RULING

The final step is for the judge to decide whether to grant the motion to suppress and throw out the evidence. The judge may either issue a ruling immediately at the hearing or “reserve” ruling to think more about the facts and law. Additionally, the judge’s ruling could be either oral or written.

The ultimate ruling can take one of several different forms:

  • The judge may grant the motion to suppress in its entirety and throw all of the evidence out.
  • If the judge finds that only some of the evidence was obtained as a result of a violation of your rights, then the judge may throw out that evidence but let the other evidence stand.
  • The judge may deny the motion to suppress entirely. If this is the case, then the prosecutor is allowed to introduce the evidence at your trial.

EVIDENCE IS PRESENTED

At the beginning of the hearing, we and the prosecutor will present evidence to the judge. The evidence will usually come from questioning witnesses and playing any video footage the officers took on the scene.

ARGUMENT

Once all of the evidence has been received, we will then argue what the facts are based on the evidence and why the facts show that your constitutional rights were violated.

RULING

The final step is for the judge to decide whether to grant the motion to suppress and throw out the evidence. The judge may either issue a ruling immediately at the hearing or “reserve” ruling to think more about the facts and law. Additionally, the judge’s ruling could be either oral or written.

The ultimate ruling can take one of several different forms:

  • The judge may grant the motion to suppress in its entirety and throw all of the evidence out.
  • If the judge finds that only some of the evidence was obtained as a result of a violation of your rights, then the judge may throw out that evidence but let the other evidence stand.
  • The judge may deny the motion to suppress entirely. If this is the case, then the prosecutor is allowed to introduce the evidence at your trial.

What To Expect At Your Plea Hearing

BEFORE THE PLEA

  • When you show up to court for your plea hearing, be sure to dress nicely to make a good impression on the judge.
  • Once we’re in court, we usually have to wait in line while the judge goes through a list of cases.
  • Once your case is called up, you and your attorney will walk up and tell the judge that you are pleaing and what the agreed-upon conditions are.

THE PLEA HEARING

The judge will then ask a series of questions to make sure you understand the consequences of your plea. You can see a list of questions the judge may ask in the next section below.

QUESTIONS THE JUDGE MAY ASK

  • Do you understand the minimum and maximum penalties of your charges?
  • Has anyone forced you or promised you anything (other than the plea offer) to get you to enter this plea?
  • Are you under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication?
  • Are you satisfied with your representation by your lawyer?
  • Do you understand that you are giving up certain rights by entering this plea, including the right to remain silent, the right to confront your accusers, the right to present witnesses on your behalf, and the right to a trial by a jury of your peers?

You don’t have to worry about the judge asking questions about the case, as that almost never happens. The judge is more concerned with making sure you understand what you are pleaing to.

AFTER THE PLEA

Once the judge accepts your plea, we will wait for paperwork. If you are put on probation, you will have to take your paperwork to the probation office to check in, which usually must be done on the same day as the plea. We will go over this and any other consequences of your plea in detail after the plea hearing.

Trial

JURY SELECTION

The first step of trial is choosing who will serve on the jury. During jury selection, we question potential jurors and try to remove jurors who would be bad for your case.

OPENING STATEMENTS

Trial will begin once your jury is selected, starting with opening statements. This gives us a chance to explain to the jury what we think the evidence will show.

RULING

Once opening statements are completed, the prosecutor will be the first to present evidence by questioning witnesses and showing pictures or videos that were taken in your case.

DEFENSE CASE-IN-CHIEF

Once the prosecutor has finished presenting evidence, we can present evidence for your side. This isn’t required, and sometimes it’s beneficial not to put on a case—for example, when the prosecutor’s evidence fails to prove that you are guilty.

MOTIONS

Once each side’s evidence is presented, we can make certain motions to the judge, which asks the judge to take a certain action on the case. We will typically make a motion for a judgment of acquittal, which argues that even if the jury believes all of the prosecutor’s evidence, it still doesn’t prove that you committed the charged crimes. We might also make a motion for mistrial if you didn’t get a fair trial.

CLOSING ARGUMENT

If the judge decides to send the case to the jury, each side will make closing arguments. This allows us and the prosecutor to summarize the evidence and argue whether it proves that you are guilty.

VERDICT

The judge will then tell the jury the process for reaching a verdict, and the jury will finally be sent to a separate room to deliberate and decide whether the State has proved that you committed the charged crime.

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