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Criminal Process in Florida


The criminal process in Florida typically begins with a complaint or arrest. A complaint is a formal accusation that a person has committed a crime. This can be initiated by law enforcement or a private citizen.


After an arrest, the defendant may be taken to jail and will have an initial appearance before a judge within 24 hours. The judge will determine whether to release the defendant on bail, set bail, or deny bail based on the severity of the crime and other factors.

Prosecutorial Screening

The State Attorney’s Office will review the evidence and decide whether to file formal charges. This process involves screening the case to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed.


The arraignment is the defendant’s first formal court appearance. During this hearing, the charges will be read, and the defendant will enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.

Pre-Trial Motions and Hearings

Before the trial, there may be several pre-trial motions and hearings. These can include motions to suppress evidence, dismiss charges, or other legal arguments to shape the trial process.

Plea Bargaining

In many cases, the defense and prosecution may negotiate a plea deal. This can result in the defendant pleading guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a reduced sentence or other considerations.


If the case goes to trial, it will be heard by a judge or jury. Both the prosecution and defense will present evidence and witness testimony. The jury (or judge in a bench trial) will then deliberate and render a verdict of guilty or not guilty.

The Grand Jury

For certain serious offenses, a grand jury may be convened to decide whether there is enough evidence to indict the defendant and proceed to trial.


If the defendant is found guilty, a sentencing hearing will be held. The judge will consider various factors, including the severity of the crime and the defendant’s criminal history, to determine an appropriate sentence.

Post-Conviction Motions

After sentencing, the defendant has the right to file post-conviction motions. These can include motions for a new trial, to vacate a sentence, or to appeal the conviction.

Understanding the criminal process in Florida is crucial for anyone facing criminal charges. It is important to have a knowledgeable and experienced attorney to navigate this complex process and ensure the best possible outcome. Contact Mollo Law Firm for expert legal representation throughout your criminal case.