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Types of Florida Court Hearings in Criminal Defense Cases

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Above I spoke about arraignment hearings, and it will also be helpful to briefly describe other types of criminal hearings in Florida courts and what the general point is for each one. Your defense attorney will have notice of your court dates and will keep you informed of your case and your hearing dates.

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Different Kinds of Florida Court Hearings and What Happens at Each One

First appearance. Technically, the arraignment is not the first kind of hearing that you might have. For certain kinds of charges, you are required to have a first appearance or bond hearing. This is where the charges against you are read and the judge determines the guidelines of your release before the trial, including bail and appointing a lawyer if you cannot afford one.

Preliminary hearing. Often these hearings are waived by defendants or happen more or less in conjunction with arraignments, leading many lawyers to consider them a part of the arraignment – they are, however, technically a separate hearing. Why would you want one? Because preliminary court hearings force the prosecution to show probable cause that a crime happened and that you committed it. Though it does not happen frequently, a case may be completely dismissed in the preliminary hearing because the judge did not think there was enough evidence for the defendant to be held.

Pretrial conferences or pretrial hearings. At these conferences or hearings, the court will decide on things like what kind of evidence is going to be allowed or kept out of the proceedings, and which witnesses are allowed to testify. Though no one speaks about your guilt or innocence here, what is decided at these hearings can go a long way towards helping your criminal defense or hurting your case.

There are other types of Florida court hearings – motion hearings, the sentencing hearing, even the trial is technically a hearing – and the court expects you to attend unless your attorney advises you otherwise. Your attorney has the ability to waive your presence at certain Orlando court hearings. If you do you miss a court date where you are required to attend, a warrant for your arrest may be issued in addition to other possible consequences.

An important part of attending your hearings is to show the prosecution and the judge that you care about your criminal defense. You want to be informed about your case and be present for any opportunities that may arise during your Florida court hearings.

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