Court Procedure


Court Procedure | After a person is arrested in the State of Florida, they are taken before a Judge within 24 hours of arrest for what is called a first appearance. Here, the Judge informs you of the charges against you and determines whether or not there was probable cause for the arrest. If they find probable cause, you will usually be given a bond with reasonable conditions (such as a no contact order or a no return to the scene order) unless he or she believes you are a danger to the community or a flight risk. If you are denied a bond (or given a zero bond), you may want to contact a Tampa criminal defense lawyer to help you get a bond hearing as soon as possible. In some cases, you may be released ROR (or released on your own recognizance). Once you are out of jail, it will be much easier to communicate with your Tampa criminal defense lawyer to prepare your defense. If you do not get a bond, the State has 33 days to file charges against you. If they fail to do so, your attorney may be able to file what is commonly called a 33-day motion on your behalf.


The arraignment is usually the first court date you will have in any criminal case after you bond out. It is where you plead guilty, no contest, or not guilty. If you have retained us well prior to your arraignment date, your presence should NOT be necessary and we will have filed a written plea of not guilty on your behalf. From there, the State Attorney’s Office will forward us all of the discovery in your case (e.g., police reports, photographs, videos, interviews, witness statements, DNA reports, forensic lab reports, results of urinalysis, blood, and so on). In Florida, you are entitled to know every piece of evidence the State intends to use against you in any given case before you decide whether to fight the charges or enter a plea.

Pretrial Conference

The pretrial conference is the next court date in most criminal cases. This is a date that also usually does NOT require your presence if you have retained a Tampa criminal defense lawyer to represent you. The pretrial conference is attended by the prosecutor, the judge and your Tampa criminal defense attorney. It is where we discuss in what direction your case will proceed (e.g., continuance, pretrial diversion, trial, motion hearings, or a plea).

For Answers to Frequently Asked Questions, visit the In Law We Trust Blog at

Motions And Case Management Conferences

After your pretrial conference, your case will proceed as necessary to your defense. Each case is unique. Please watch for our letters in your mailbox for future court dates. Some court dates (such as case management conferences) will require you to be in court with your Tampa criminal defense attorney, while others (such as motions to suppress) may not. Again, our Tampa criminal defense attorneys will inform you whether or not you will have to be present.

The length or duration on your case will depend on the complexity of the issues and number of witnesses involved. For example, a simple petit theft case may take 2-3 months to resolve, an average DUI maybe 4-8 months, and felonies can range from as little as 1 month to several years. If there is a particular reason you need your case to resolve by a certain date, you should inform your lawyer right away. Most of the time, a month or two may go by without any news on your case. This is normal. Criminal cases sometimes take a long time to resolve. Remember too that criminal defense cases almost always get better with time. So do not panic if you have not heard from your lawyer in a while or think your case is taking too long. It may be a good thing. And rest assured, we are diligently working on your case.


We are Tampa criminal defense trial lawyers. Make no mistake about that; however, trial is naturally the final stage of your case and is only necessary in a small percentage cases. If we believe your case will require a trial, we will discuss the court procedure and together we will prepare your defense strategy (e.g., theory of defense, presentation of evidence, defense witnesses and so on). Our Tampa criminal defense attorneys will inform you of all possible outcomes and go into court by your side, prepared and ready to fight for you.


The appeal is post-trial and is usually only necessary when there is a verdict of guilty at trial. In this event, our Tampa criminal defense attorneys will either help you with your appeal or help your appellate lawyer in continuing to fight for your case.

For Answers to Frequently Asked Questions, visit the In Law We Trust Blog for more information

Did You Know?
Your lawyer cannot disclose what you tell them – even if you confess to a crime. Attorney-client privilege is designed to ensure that you are candid with your lawyer. Under most circumstances, your lawyer cannot tell anyone – a judge, the police, a jury, or your family members – what you tell them in confidence.