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What Happens When You Are Arrested?
Within 24 hours of being arrested, you will appear before a judge. The judge will:
Tell you the charge(s) for which you have been arrested.
Determine if the police had sufficient probable cause to arrest you for charges.
Inquire if you will hire a private attorney to represent you or determine whether you qualify for the services of an attorney with the Public Defender's Office.
If you qualify for our services, the judge will start the process to get the Public Defender's Office appointed to your case. Before our office can assist you, the Public Defender's Office must be appointed by the court.
Decide if bail is allowed in your case, and if so, how much.
Once the Public Defender's Office is appointed to your case, if you remain in custody,
someone from our office will come to see you. That person may be an Assistant Public
Defender, a Witness Interviewer, an Investigator, or an Intern. You will be asked a
series of questions, which you should answer as completely and honestly as you can.
Even though the person asking the questions may not be an attorney, the information you
give is confidential and will be given to your attorney.
Filing Charges and Arraignment
If you are in custody, the State Attorney has 30 days from
your arrest date to file formal charges against you. On the 30th day, the court shall
order you automatically released on the 33rd day, provided notice has been given to the
State Attorney's Office and they have not filed formal charges by that date. Or, if
the State Attorney does not show good cause, the court shall order you automatically released
on the 40th day, unless the State Attorney's Office files charges by that date.
up to the State Attorney whether or not to file charges against you. After formal
charges have been filed against you, you will be arraigned. At that time, the filed
charges will be read to you and your attorney will enter a plea for you. If you plead
not guilty, your attorney will request a trial.
There are three kinds of pleas: (1) Not guilty; (2)
Guilty; and (3) Nolo Contendere (no contest). Not guilty pleas are entered when you
are innocent, when you want to demand a trial, or when you don't know which plea to
enter. If you want to plead guilty or no contest, you must be able to convince the
judge that no one is forcing you to plead guilty or no contest and that you know what
If you plead guilty, you are admitting you committed the crime. If you
pled no contest, a judge will be allowed to find you guilty without you having to admit
guilt. If you plead guilty or no contest, you give up your right to a trial or to an
If they have your permission, your attorney may talk to the Assistant State
Attorney in your case to negotiate a plea. A negotiated plea is an agreement between
your attorney (who is acting on your behalf) and the State Attorney for a reduction of
charges or dismissal of charges or a specific sentence. You must approve a negotiated
plea and the judge does not have to accept a negotiated plea agreement.
Getting Ready for Trial
Once you decide to go to trial, your attorney will file
motions to get information related to your case. Your attorney will come to visit you
if you are in custody (or ask you to come to our office if you are out of custody) to
discuss your case. Please remember that all communication between you and your
attorney is confidential. Do not discuss your case with anyone but your attorney or
where anyone may overhear you.
Once your case is ready for trial, your attorney will
explain all the facts of your case and tell you about which defenses you may use.
He/She will explain your legal options, as well as any possible sentence if you plead
guilty or are found guilty at trial.
If you go to trial, you and your attorney will decide
whether you want a jury trial or a non-jury trial. In a jury trial, six or more people
will decide whether you are responsible for the crime for which you have been charged.
In a non-jury trial, the judge decides if you are guilty or not. If you decide you
want a jury trial, you must decide whether or not you will testify in your trial. You
are not required to testify.
If you are having a jury trial, the Assistant State
Attorney and your Assistant Public Defender will question the prospective jurors and
decide which ones will hear your case. You will be allowed to assist in the jury
selection. After the jury is selected, the actual trial will start.
Both sides will make an opening statement to tell the jury their view of your case.
First, the State Attorney will introduce their witnesses and evidence. Your attorney
will be allowed to ask questions. Next, your attorney will present your witnesses and
evidence. The Assistant State Attorney will be allowed to ask questions. After all
the evidence on both sides is presented, both attorneys will make closing arguments.
If there is a jury, the judge will tell the jury about the laws that apply to your
case. The jury then goes into the jury room and decides what the verdict will be.
The verdict must be unanimous. If the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict, then
the judge will declare a mistrial and you will have another trial at a later date.
Probation Termination and Conversion
This procedure applies to Felony Cases Only
Pro Se Motion to Modify/Convert Probation/Community Control
Notice of Hearing
This procedure applies to Misdemeanor and Criminal Traffic Cases
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Is My Public Defender?
This information may be found on the CJIS website
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When is my next court date?
This information may be found on the CJIS website
(click here), please
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How do I apply for a Public Defender?
You can apply to be screened for a Public Defender by contacting the location for your county shown below.
Pre-Trial Services, 1st Floor
Charlotte County Justice Center
350 East Marion Avenue
Punta Gorda, FL 33950
Clerk of Court, 1st Floor
Collier County Courthouse Annex
3301 Tamiami Trail East
Naples, FL 34112
Clerk of Court, 1st Floor
Glades County Courthouse
500 Avenue J
Moore Haven, Fl 33471
Clerk of Court, 3rd Floor
Hendry County Courthouse
25 Hickpoochee Street
Clewiston Town Center
931 W. Sugarland Hwy.
Clewiston, Fl 33440
Lee County Justice Center, 3rd Floor
1700 Monroe St.
Fort Myers, Florida 33901
What is the $50 Public Defender Application Fee for, and how do I pay it?
The $50 Public Defender Application Fee was created by the Florida Legislature. The fee applies whether or not you actually are appointed a Public
Defender. If you do not have the money, you cannot be denied a Public Defender. You may pay the $50 fee at the following locations, depending on the county in which you applied. Even if you do
not have the $50, go to the appropriate location below to arrange a payment plan.
Charlotte County Clerk of Courts on the 1st floor of the Charlotte County
Collier County Clerk of Courts on the 1st floor of the Collier County Courthouse
Glades County Clerk of Courts on the 1st floor of the Glades County Courthouse.
Hendry County Clerk of Courts on the 3rd floor of the Hendry County Courthouse or the Hendry County Clerk of Courts in the Clewiston Town Center.
Fort Myers Office is located at the Lee County Clerk of Courts on the 1st floor of the Lee County Justice Center.
Cape Coral Office is located in the Lee County Government Center at 1039 SE 9th Place, 2nd Floor.
Why won't my Public Defender give information regarding my case to my family and friends?
Information regarding a person's case is held as private under the attorney ' client privilege.
What will happen at my arraignment?
After your First Appearance before a judge, if formal charges are filed, an arraignment will be scheduled. The arraignment is not a trial and not a time when evidence can be presented. At most arraignments your charges are read to you and if you do not have a lawyer
the judge will again determine if the Public Defender's office will represent you. If a plea of not guilty is entered at your arraignment, your case will normally be scheduled for a pretrial conference. If the Public Defender has not been appointed, YOU MUST ATTEND THE ARRAIGNMENT.
What is a pre-trial hearing?
A pre-trial hearing is the court proceeding in which a decision is made to either set a trial date or enter a plea of guilty or no contest. You generally MUST attend a pre-trial hearing unless your Public Defender has told you not to go.
What is a Baker Act hearing? Can the patient have a Public Defender
to represent them at a Baker Act hearing?
A Baker Act hearing is an involuntary mental health commitment proceeding. Generally these occur when someone has a concern that a person is a threat to themselves or others. The person to be committed is entitled to representation by a Public Defender.
If this site did not answer all your questions, please call your local Public Defender's Office with your case number ready. Thank You.
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