DUI & Criminal Defense Attorney for Tampa Bay Area Court Procedures

Your choice in hiring a DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney is critical to the outcome of your case. To ensure that all of your rights are protected, you want a DUI Attorney or Criminal Defense Attorney with years of experience in the Tampa Bay area. Charles Holloway, P.A., is a Criminal Defense and DUI Attorney with an office in Clearwater. He has more than 30 years of combined experience as a prosecutor and a Criminal Defense/DUI Lawyer in Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Pasco counties.

From arrest to trial, Charles Holloway can advise you throughout the entire courtroom process. Following are the seven general steps you may face with a DUI or criminal case in the Tampa Bay area.

(1.) PRETRIAL RELEASE (bond or ROR)

Generally, when you are arrested, you will be released in one of two ways:

(a) Release on own recognizance (ROR): This form of release requires that the Judge is convinced you will appear for all future court proceedings. No bond is required for this release.

(b) Release by posting bond: This option requires the posting of the entire bond (in cash or money order) at the Pinellas, Hillsborough, or Pasco jail. These funds will be returned to you at the end of the case, provided you appear for all court hearings, as required. The alternative requires that you pay a bondsman a fee (approximately 10%) so that he will post the bond. The bondsman may also require collateral to cover the bond.

Bond may also be posted by asking the Judge to hold real estate as collateral for the amount of the bond. This type of bond can be difficult to obtain and generally requires the assistance of a Criminal Defense Attorney.

You are free to travel while released on bond or ROR unless a restriction on travel is ordered by the Judge or the ROR program. Should you fail to appear for a court hearing, the Court will likely revoke the bond or ROR and issue a warrant for your arrest.

(2.) ADVISORY HEARING

The Advisory Hearing is held in the jail within 24 hours of your arrest. You will attend this hearing if you have not already been released from the jail on bond or ROR. At the hearing, the Judge will inform you of the charges, discuss the hiring or appointment of an Attorney, and may consider your release or bond or ROR.

(3.) ARRAIGNMENT

After you are released from jail on bond or ROR, you will be notified by mail of the next court hearing: the Arraignment. For criminal traffic charges, a court hearing date may appear on the ticket. This hearing is also considered an Arraignment. You are required to appear at this hearing, unless your Lawyer informs you otherwise.

At the Arraignment, the Judge will inform you of the charges and may provide an opportunity for you to enter a plea. In the state of Florida, there are three possible pleas at the time of Arraignment:

1. Not Guilty

2. No Contest

3. Guilty

 

If you plead no contest or guilty at the time of Arraignment, the Judge will proceed to sentence you. The sentence may include such punishment as incarceration, a fine, probation, house arrest, license suspension, substance abuse treatment, etc.

If you plead not guilty, the case will then be set for a pretrial hearing.

(4.) NOTICE OF APPEARANCE

Should you retain an Attorney, he will file a Notice of Appearance on your behalf. This document informs the Judge, the Prosecutor and the Clerk’s office that your Attorney represents you. It also directs the prosecutor to forward all future correspondence to your Attorney.

Your Attorney should also file a written plea of Not Guilty in order to secure your right to a trial. This does not mean that the case will go to trial, only that you will have a right to a trial if you desire one. There is always the potential to settle a case any time prior to trial.

Your Attorney should also file a “Demand for Discovery.” This requires the Prosecutor to provide your Attorney with certain information, such as Police reports and lists of evidence and witnesses. This information is referred to as “Discovery.”

(5.) THE DISCOVERY PROCESS

After the Prosecutor receives your Attorney’s Demand for Discovery, he/she is obligated to respond. Once your Attorney has received Discovery, he will evaluate the information and, if permitted, will schedule a deposition of the Prosecutor’s witnesses. Your Attorney may also obtain any audio or video tapes which the Prosecutor may have.

A deposition involves taking sworn testimony from a witness. Depositions are usually held at a Court Reporter’s office and are attended by the witnesses, your Attorney, the Prosecutor, and a Court Reporter. The right to take depositions in misdemeanor cases is limited by law. Therefore depositions are most often conducted in felony cases.

The Prosecutor will not be allowed to take your deposition, as you have the right to remain silent. However, the Prosecutor may depose any witnesses that your Attorney has listed for your defense.

You are not permitted to attend depositions without the approval of the Judge. You should be informed by your Attorney of the date of depositions, but unless notified otherwise, you do not need to make arrangements to attend.

(6.) PRETRIAL HEARING

A Pretrial hearing will be scheduled several weeks after the Arraignment. A Pretrial hearing enables the Judge to determine whether or not the case can be settled. Most Judges require your presence at the Pretrial hearing. Therefore, unless you are specifically excused, you must plan to attend.

If you settle your case by a change of plea at the Pretrial hearing, the Judge will normally impose a sentence at that time.

(7.) TRIAL

You may decide to take your case to trial. If that is your decision, the case may require substantial preparation. Preparation should include the review of all testimony and evidence by your Attorney. Please note that a significant number of cases do not proceed to trial; most are resolved through negotiation and plea bargain.

Some criminal offenses (such as violation of probation) are tried only by a Judge, not a jury. However, most criminal charges entitle you to a trial by jury. In this situation, the Judge will decide the questions of law and the Jury will decide your guilt or innocence.

You should consult with a DUI or Criminal Defense Attorney soon after you are accused or arrested in order to fully understand your options and your rights. Former prosecutor Charles Holloway, P.A., is a Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer with more than 30 years of combined experience in Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Pasco counties. Please call (727) 446-8303 to schedule a free initial consultation with DUI/Criminal Defense Attorney Charles Holloway at his office in Clearwater, Tampa, or St. Petersburg.
Phone: (727) 446-8303
E-Mail: Info@PinellasDefense.com