Understanding Your Court Hearings

Criminal Defense Lawyers Representing the Accused in Clearwater

Once you have been charged with a crime, you will inevitably be overwhelmed by the complex nature of the criminal justice system. Florida’s system of criminal justice, along with most of the States in this country, use ancient and confusing terminology that can seem alien to people who live and work outside of the system. It may even seem that the system is made purposefully confusing to take advantage of defendants who don’t have the years of training to understand the intricacies of the criminal courthouse. In many ways, this is true. Because of the nature of the system, if you are facing criminal charges, you should contact a dedicated Clearwater criminal defense lawyer who will guide you through the complex process and explain to you what is happening along the way.

As dedicated criminal defense lawyers, the language of the criminal courthouse is normal to us. However, we understand the confusing nature and strange terminology can be scary for our clients. For this reason, we strive to explain every step of the process without complex legalese so our clients fully understand and appreciate what is happening with their case. We believe that our clients should be fully informed in order to make the best decisions for their cases.

Types of Court Hearings

One of the most common questions heard from first time criminal defendants is “what is going to happen at this court hearing?” It is common to have several different types of hearing during the pendency of the criminal case, and this article is intended to give you some insight into the purpose of each hearing and what you can expect.

The first hearing you may encounter is a preliminary bond hearing. If you have been arrested and are held without bond or with a bond you cannot afford you will be brought before a judge who will determine whether your bond will be reduced or if you will be released to pretrial services who can monitor you while your case is pending. Retaining a skilled Clearwater criminal defense lawyer for this type of hearing can help ensure that you receive a fair bond or that you are released without having to post a bond. If you can post your bond before this hearing, you will not have to attend a pretrial bond hearing.

The next significant hearing that you are likely to receive is an arraignment. The arraignment is the first hearing set after charges have been officially filed against you. The arraignment is a simple hearing where the presiding judge will read to you the formal charges against you and ask you how you plea. At this stage it is almost always in your best interest to plead not guilty, unless a favorable agreement has been prearranged with the prosecution. Often, if you retain a skilled lawyer, your presence at the arraignment hearing can be waived and a not guilty plea can be entered via a written filing on your behalf.

After your arraignment, several pretrial hearings may be set. Different counties use different terms for these hearings, only adding to the confusing nature of the criminal justice system. In Tampa, these hearings are called dispositions, in other counties they are known as Calendar Calls or Soundings. In Pinellas, the typical name for these is simply Pre-Trial Hearing. At this hearing, the Judge will monitor the status of the case and the lawyers can bring up any issues that need to be addressed.

At the pretrial hearings, once the case has been fully prepared. You can exercise one of many options. If you have worked out a favorable plea agreement with the prosecution, you can change your plea to guilty or no contest and accept an agreed upon sentence for the crime. If you desire a trial in your case, your lawyer can announce that he or she is ready for trial and the judge will set a trial date. These are the most common of the many options that can be exercised at a pretrial hearing. To fully understand the paths available on your case, you should consult a dedicated Clearwater criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can.

Speak With A Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

The lawyers at Hanlon Law relish being in court. We are skilled litigators and are not afraid to argue for our clients. If you have a pending criminal case, contact us today at 727-897-5413.