First and foremost, you have the right to remain silent, USE IT! When you are arrested you will be taken to the local jail to be processed and have your bond set. If you do not make bond right away, you will see a First Appearance Judge who will review your arrest report to confirm there is probable case (PC) to further prosecute you and he will address your bond status. If you are arrested on a Violation of Probation charge (VOP), you will not likely have a bond. Otherwise, you will have a bond set that you either put up in cash or hire a local bondsman.
Whether you make bond or remain in custody, you will also have a next court date set. This is called your Arraignment. It is usually 10 to 12 days after your First Appearance and it is a mandatory court appearance unless you hire me or another attorney that waives that appearance by way of filing a Waiver of Arraignment. When you hire me I file a Notice of Appearance, Plea of Not Guilty, Demand for a Jury Trial, Waiver of Arraignment, and a Notice to Participate in Discovery. This tells the Clerk of Court and the State Attorney that you are represented by a private attorney and who that attorney is that will be representing you.
Why waive my appearance at the Arraignment? The Arraignment simply establishes that you have formally been advised of your rights per Miranda v. Arizona and made aware of the charges against you. It also starts the Discovery clock. The Discovery clock simply tells the State Attorney’s Office that they have 15 days to compile and send to your attorney (Jack Wilkins) all of the evidence they have or can get that concerns your case. Once I get it I make sure you get a copy of it so that you are kept well informed as to what is going on with your case. Another reason to waive your appearance is that you are in there with 150 other people, so why waste 3/4 of a day when your case is not going to be resolved.
Next, once I have the Discovery packet I go through it and conduct my investigation. If your case is a felony, I usually set depositions to lock the State’s witness in on a story or their version of the truth that can’t change later on at a hearing or at trial. If they do, then I shove their prior testimony down their throat. If your case is a misdemeanor then I can not take depositions. However, I still conduct just as thorough of an investigation as if it were a felony.
Once the Discovery phase is complete we have a better idea and understanding on whether the case is going to be dismissed, or the critical evidence for the State is going to be suppressed, or whether a negotiated plea is going to be entered, or whether we are going to go to trial. If critical evidence is suppressed the State may dismiss the case or make an attractive plea offer. If they make an offer it will be up to you to make a decision to either take it or reject it and go to trial. If you decide to go to trial then you will either be found guilty or not guilty. If found not guilty then you go home with a kind word in your mouth about me. If you are found guilty you will be sentenced as the judge and the Sentencing guidelines see fit.
Call Jack Wilkins at (850) 429-9757 for further information and a free consultation concerning your case or the case of a loved one.