Usually, the arraignment varies from county to county. Generally, it is scheduled two to three weeks after the arrest. The arraignment is just the formal beginning of the case, where they read you the charge and ask you whether you plead guilty, not guilty or no contest.
What Happens At An Arraignment In A DUI Case In Florida?
In most cases in which a private lawyer has been retained, the arraignment doesn't happen at all. In Florida, your lawyer is allowed to waive the arraignment. If there's no lawyer, then the person has to show up. The arraignment consists of formally notifying the defendant of the charges and getting the defendant's plea of not guilty. Occasionally, they'll accept a guilty plea at arraignment. Normally, they don't want to do that, if there's any chance that the person is going to realize they made a mistake and withdraw their guilty plea later on. They would rather have everyone plead not guilty at arraignment, until they can at least consult a lawyer.
They schedule a first pretrial conference and make sure that the defendant knows the date and the time of that conference, so that they have to be there or at least have a lawyer attend in their place. A lawyer can file a waiver of appearance, which will allow the defendant to not have to show up for the arraignment or the pre-trial conferences. Until you have a lawyer on the case, you have to be there for every court appearance.
When Do I Actually Make A Plea Of Guilty Or Not Guilty?
The formal plea is entered at the arraignment, whether or not the defendant is present in court, and that plea is almost always not guilty. Normally, if a person has a lawyer, the lawyer will file a waiver of arraignment, which includes the plea of not guilty, a demand for discovery, a demand for a jury trial, and a waiver of appearance during the pendency of the case. You have to make sure to ask your attorney whether or not he wants you to appear for arraignment. On very rare occasions, for tactical reasons, it may be advisable for a defendant to appear at arraignment and enter a plea right then. That might include cases where there are prior convictions which haven't come to light yet, so it's advantageous to enter a plea before any kind of mandatory jail time attaches to the case.
Will My Attorney Review All The Evidence Prior To Entering A Plea Of Guilty Or Not Guilty?
The plea of not guilty at arraignment, at the beginning of the case, is just a place holder that keeps the case open until you can get discovery and see the evidence. Once we see and evaluate the evidence, we can decide whether you want to work out a plea bargain or demand a trial. It's also possible that your lawyer and the state attorney's office might be able to work out something which is agreeable to both sides, in which case you will withdraw your formally entered plea of not guilty and enter a plea of no contest or guilty. Your lawyer and you will almost always get to sit down and evaluate the evidence before you have to make a decision on how you're going to proceed.
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