How to Survive Your Criminal Case in Florida (Part 1 of 9)

How to Survive Your Criminal Case in Florida
(part 1 of a 9 part series)

By: Carlton “Duke” Fagan, Esq.
101 Century 21 Drive
Jacksonville, Florida 32216
(904) 733-1234 – Telephone

About the Author

Carlton “Duke” Fagan is a trial lawyer.  He was born and raised in Jacksonville.  His offices are located there.  He attended Loyola University in New Orleans, then Florida State University where he received his Bachelor of Science in Accounting.  Mr. Fagan received his law degree from Florida Coastal School of Law where he graduated with Honors.  He was admitted to The Florida Bar in 2000.  He was also admitted to practice in the Federal Court (Middle District of Florida) in 2000.  Mr. Fagan litigates and tries criminal and personal injury cases throughout the state of Florida.

Author’s Notes

The use of the terms “he” and “she” are interchangable throughout this paper.  The use of one term rather than the other is not intended, and should not be construed, to indicate a preference for one gender over the other.  Florida is very fortunate to have a bar with many fine lawyers both men and women.  Your choice of a lawyer should not be based on gender.

The abbreviation “LEO” stands for “Law Enforcement Officer”.

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements.  Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience.

If you are reading this paper, most likely it is because you or a friend or a loved one has been arrested.  The experience of being arrested, jailed, and charged with a crime is one of the most frightening events that can happen in anyone’s life.  This paper was written to help you through the process of your criminal case.  It is my hope that it will inform, educate, and guide you through a very difficult time.  If you find yourself facing criminal charges, get a good lawyer, one that you trust, one in whom you have confidence.  Florida is fortunate to have many fine lawyers.  Find one who will stand up for you.

What Justified My Arrest and What Happens to Me Now?

In order for the police to legally arrest you, the police or a judicial officer must have found that there was probable cause that you committed a crime.  “Probable Cause” means that in the opinion of the investigating LEO or a judicial officer it is “more likely than not” that you committed the crime for which you were arrested.  The opinion of the investigating LEO must be based on events he has seen or heard OR on the reliable facts that he has gathered from his investigation.  Those facts can be physical evidence such as clothing, weapons, drugs and/or statements from witnesses whom the investigating officer has reason to believe are reliable.  If, in the mind of a LEO or a judicial officer, these facts make it “more likely than not” that you committed a crime, a LEO can lawfully arrest you and take you to jail.


First Appearance

In Florida, if you are arrested for allegedly committing a crime that violates a Florida statute, you must be brought before a Judge for a proceeding called “First Appearance” within 24 hours of your arrest.  At First Appearance, your bond will be set or reviewed (if you were arrested on a warrant the judge who issued the warrant will have set your bond when he signed the warrant).  It is very important for you to have a lawyer with you at First Appearance as this your first opportunity to get your bond lowered.  Of course, the lower your bond, the easier it will be for your friends or family to raise the funds needed to have you released from jail.  If you are able to post the bond set for you at First Appearance, you will be released, if not, you will remain in jail until your lawyer files and successfully argues a Motion for Bond Reduction or until your case is resolved.  The next step in your case is for the State Attorney to make a charging decision on your file.

Our office regularly represents clients at First Appearance.  We are available seven days a week.  If you have just been arrested, call a friend or family member immediately and ask them to call our office.  They should contact us immediately by calling (904) 733-1234 so that we can make arrangements to be at your First Appearance to represent you.  We take calls for First Appearance 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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