Criminal Process Overview in Orlando

The criminal process in Florida has many layers that the average person likely doesn’t know about, and rightfully so. Judges, lawyers, and other legal professionals are some of the few who fully understand the complexities of the justice system; however, if you or someone you know was recently arrested, it is vital for you to learn the basics of the criminal process in Orlando. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can provide guidance.

Arrests and Extraditions

The criminal process often starts with an arrest. An officer who has reasonable suspicion that a person is involved in criminal activity has the right to place him under arrest. Police officers may also arrest material witnesses. Although the person may be under arrest, he maintains rights that law enforcement officials must uphold. If these rights are violated, a criminal defense lawyer can bring forth a legal claim. These rights include:

When a person is suspected of criminal activity, the court will issue an arrest warrant for them. An arrest warrant gives law enforcement permission to arrest the person even if the officers haven’t witnessed a crime. Depending on the nature of the crime, an arrest warrant might prompt law enforcement to issue a search for the individual as well.

A defendant considered a fugitive from the law is a person who is wanted for committing a crime in one particular state and has fled to another state. When arrested in the other state, the original state has the right to have the person transported back to the jurisdiction to stand trial. This process is known as extradition.

Were you recently named as a suspect in an investigation? Have police tried to speak with you about your alleged involvement in a particular crime? What you may not realize is that you can get a criminal defense lawyer to protect your reputation even before formal charges are filed. Prefile intervention or prefile representation allows an attorney to step in and challenge the beginning phases of a police investigation.

First Appearance

Any suspect arrested and held in custody in Florida must appear in court within 24 hours. The first appearance consists of a brief meeting with the judge. It is an opportunity for the defendant to:

  • Learn about the charges he may face
  • Receive a copy of the complaint
  • Learn about his right to counsel, among other rights

The judge may also set conditions for release if any apply and appoint the defendant an attorney to represent him if he cannot afford a private attorney. A defendant inching toward his first appearance is strongly advised to acquire legal representation beforehand so that the attorney may be present.

At your first court appearance in federal court, the judge will also determine whether you can be released on bail. The nature of the charges and your criminal history often determines whether the judge allows you to post bail or whether you will be held in prison.


One of the last steps a prosecutor takes before trial is to respond to or file motions. A motion is an application to the court made by the prosecutor or defense attorney, requesting that the court make a decision on a certain issue before the trial begins. The motion can affect the trial, courtroom, defendants, evidence, or testimony. Learn more about the following:

Formal Charges and Arraignment

The arraignment is the second time the defendant appears before the judge. By the time of the arraignment, the prosecution has filed charges (if he or she has chosen to do so). During the arraignment, the judge informs the defendant of the charges against him and asks him to enter a plea. The defendant may enter a plea of guilt, innocence, or no contest. The judge may also set bail and the conditions of release at this hearing.

Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Those who have yet to do so by this point really must acquire legal representation. The court provides the accused with a public defender for the sake of the arraignment hearing, but the opportunity to seek the legal services of a private criminal defense lawyer remains. A defendant who seeks to hire private counsel should consider attorneys who have significant experience in the particular area of law that applies to his case.

Pleas and Pretrial Diversion Programs

Defendants are entitled to a reasonable amount of time to consider how to plead. There are three possible pleas a defendant can enter: guilty, not guilty, or no contest. The benefits and drawbacks of each plea vary depending on the circumstances of the case. A criminal defense attorney can help a defendant make the best decision for his unique case. At The Umansky Law Firm, we strongly urge individuals facing criminal charges to speak with their lawyer before entering a plea.

Pretrial diversion programs may be available to first-time, nonviolent offenders who have been charged with misdemeanor or third-degree felony offenses. These programs aim to rehabilitate offenders so they may become productive members of society once more. It may be possible to avoid punishment by completing a pretrial diversion program, but one must diligently follow the terms of the program. In this way, entering a pretrial diversion program is similar to probation. These programs are voluntary; however, it is up to the State Attorney to determine whether you may enroll in them. Completing a pretrial diversion program will lead to dropped charges.

Florida Trial Procedure

Depending on the plea entered, a trial may be necessary. The Florida trial procedure allows the prosecution to present their case as to why they believe the individual in question is guilty of the charges against him. This is an opportunity for the defendant’s attorney to look out for his best interests. The defense attorney may present counterevidence and look out for his client’s best interests. The trial concludes with a verdict from a jury or a judge. The judge then hands down a criminal sentence if the individual is found guilty. If the Defendant is found Not Guilty, the Defendant is free from all responsibilities related to the arrest and charge.

Criminal Sentencing

The judge considers both mitigating and aggravating factors when sentencing a defendant. Depending on the offense, the defendant may be sentenced to incarceration, probation, pay restitution and/or court fines, community service, and other penalties. Likewise, in Florida, those previously convicted of criminal acts are exposed to the possibility of enhanced sentencing if charged with a subsequent crime.

Criminal Penalties

When sentencing an individual, the judge must abide by the minimum and maximum penalties allowed in Florida for that specific charge. The individual’s criminal history, conduct during trial, and other factors influence the severity of the penalties the judge issues.


After the judge sentences the accused, he or she can still attempt to have the court ruling overturned or reassessed. Both are made possible through the criminal appeals process. Appeals are not guaranteed approval, but the right criminal defense attorney can position you for a favorable ruling.

Orders of Non-Disclosure

Have you served time for an offense and are having trouble moving on with your life? A history of criminal charges can make it difficult to find employment and housing, build relationships, and is often an obstacle to achieving your goals. Individuals with a criminal history often have trouble finding permanent work, a place to live, loans, or receiving financial assistance. One of the only ways to move past a criminal history and live a peaceful life is to have your criminal record sealed with an order of nondisclosure.

Contact Our Orlando Attorneys for a Criminal Process Overview

If you’re under investigation or are currently facing felony or misdemeanor charges in Orlando, don’t lose hope. There are goods odds a skilled defense attorney like those at The Umansky Law Firm can assist you in preserving your reputation and future in court. Our firm has a recognized presence and has contributed to and appeared on many national media outlets including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, People, and NBA, CBS, ABC and FOX affiliates.

Our Orlando criminal defense lawyers possess more than 100 years of combined legal experience that we use to help mitigate your criminal charges. As former state prosecutors, we know exactly how a state will approach your case, which has earned recognition as part of Florida Trend’s Legal Elite.  Don’t risk your future and freedom and go it alone facing charges.  Contact our office online or by phone today for a free case evaluation.

The Umansky Law Firm Criminal Defense & Injury Attorneys

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    Criminal Process Overview in Orlando