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Criminal Process in Melbourne, Palm Bay, and throughout Brevard Florida 

People who have been arrested for the first time in the state of Florida can have little idea of what to expect as they prepare to navigate the criminal justice system. These cases are rarely resolved in a single court appearance, and every alleged offender should know what he or she should expect.

This page is designed to provide a broad overview, but not every step listed here will apply to every case. You can find additional information about topics relating to court procedures on these pages:

  • Misdemeanor vs. Felony Process
  • Warrant / Bench Warrant
  • Arraignment
  • Pretrial Motions
  • Trial / Sentencing

Melbourne Florida Criminal Process Lawyer

Were you or your loved one recently arrested for allegedly committing a crime in Brevard County Florida? Having experienced legal counsel will help you understand and fully prepare for every stage of your case.

James Coulter, our Brevard County criminal process attorney at The Law Offices of James B. Coulter  aggressively defend residents throughout the Melbourne Florida area, but we also assists tourists who may be unable to make regular court appearances because they live in another part of the Sunshine State or a completely different state altogether. Let us review your case by calling (321) 586-9944 right now to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation.

Florida Criminal Process Information Center

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Criminal Investigation in Brevard County Florida

A police officer must have probable cause to make an arrest in Florida. This means that law enforcement will need evidence that would make a reasonable person would believe the alleged offender committed a crime.

In order to obtain that evidence, officers must either allege to have witnessed the crime occur or must conduct some sort of investigation. Crimes such as drug trafficking or mortgage fraud may require several months or even years to investigate.

If you know or you believe that you are the subject of a criminal investigation, you should immediately contact a skilled lawyer before making any type of statement.

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Arrest or Notice to Appear in Brevard, Florida

In many cases, alleged offenders who are suspected of committing crimes will be arrested and booked at local police stations. They will usually be held in jail until they can have first appearance in court.

However, there are certain crimes in which police may issue alleged offenders a notice to appear. While this can look like an ordinary ticket, it actually lists the time and date of the alleged offender’s first court appearance. Failure to appear for this hearing will result in a judge issuing a warrant for the alleged offender’s arrest.

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First Appearance in Brevard County Florida 

Also called an initial appearance, an alleged offender will appear before a judge at the time specified in his or her notice to appear or within 24 to 48 hours of his or her arrest. There are a few important aspects of the case that are addressed during this appearance:

  • The alleged offender is informed of the criminal charges against him or her;
  • The alleged offender is informed of his or her rights;
  • The judge ensures the alleged offender has legal counsel; and
  • The judge determines bail and any other conditions of pretrial release.

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Brevard County Florida Preliminary Hearing

This is a very important stage for the prosecutor because he or she will need to demonstrate that there is sufficient evidence to prove that not only was a crime committed, but the alleged offender is the person who committed it. If the judge determines that the evidence presented does not satisfy this burden, then the charges may be dismissed and the case is thrown out.

This stage is also when an alleged offender’s attorney may file various pretrial motions that challenge how evidence may have been collected. If a judge agrees to suppress certain forms of evidence, it can substantially affect a prosecutor’s case.

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Plea Bargaining in Brevard County Florida

Between the preliminary hearing and the conclusion of any trial, a prosecutor, and a defense lawyer may negotiate a resolution to the case that both parties agree to. The alleged offender’s attorney will seek some type of reduction in charges or penalties in exchange for a guilty plea.

These discussions are not required, and it may be possible that one side refuses to budge because of confidence about an outcome should the case go to trial. However, all alleged offenders should remember that they ultimately are the ones who have the final approval over any agreements reached by a prosecutor and defense lawyer. This means that the person facing criminal charges reserves the right to reject any proposed plea deal that he or she does not like.

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Brevard County Florida Arraignment

An arraignment is the stage that determines whether a case will proceed to trial or sentencing. The alleged offender is formally presented with the charges against him or her and enters one of the following three pleas:

  • Guilty — The alleged offender admits his or her guilt and the case moves forward to sentencing.
  • Nolo Contendere (No Contest) — The alleged offender neither admits nor denies the criminal charges against him or her. This plea has the same effect as a guilty plea and the case moves forward to sentencing.
  • Not Guilty — The alleged offender denies his or her guilt and the case moves forward to trial.

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Trial and Sentencing in Brevard County, Florida

If a criminal case reaches the trial stage, then the alleged offender can choose whether to be tried by judge or jury. The trial by judge is generally more straight-forward as both sides are given the opportunity to present their cases to the judge who then decides the case outcome. A trial by jury generally follows this process:

  • Jury Selection (Voir Dire);
  • Opening Statements;
  • Prosecutor Presents Case;
  • Cross-Examination by Defense Attorney;
  • Defense Lawyer Presents Case;
  • Cross-Examination by Prosecutor;
  • Prosecutor Rebuttal;
  • Closing Arguments ; and
  • Verdict.

A jury will need to come to a unanimous decision regarding the alleged offender’s guilt or innocence. If the alleged offender is found not guilty, he or she is immediately released from custody. However, a guilty verdict means that the case then moves to a sentencing hearing.

At a sentencing hearing, a judge considers legal statutes, a report making sentencing recommendations, and arguments made by the prosecutor and defense attorney. The judge will then determine and order the sentence to be imposed on the alleged offender.

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Appeals in Melbourne, Florida

Criminal trials can be extraordinarily grueling processes. When the outcome is not what the alleged offender desired, it does not necessarily mean that he or she has to settle for that conclusion.

Circuit court rulings in Florida can be appealed to the District Courts of Appeal. In Brevard County Florida, this would be the Fifth District Court of Appeal. A decision by that court could then be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

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Florida Criminal Process Resources

Brevard County Clerk of Courts — The criminal court page of this website contains information about the types of criminal cases as well as how to pay fines and what forms of payment are accepted. You can also find misdemeanor payment branch locations and hours, the Brevard County Corrections Initial Appearance and Ninth Judicial Circuit Court calendars, and learn more about the seal and expungement rules.

51 Nieman Ave, #100
Melbourne, Florida 32901
(321) 637-5413

Brevard County Sheriff's Office — This is the official website of the Sheriff’s Office, with information about the agency’s operational and administrative services. There is also crime information as well as pages dedicated to crime prevention. You can learn more about the agency’s goals and fallen deputies.

1515 Sarno Road, #B
Melbourne, Florida 32935
(321) 253-6658

Criminal Court | Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida — This website has information about the criminal circuit courts and criminal county courts in the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida. You can view a signing judge schedule, learn about court services, and watch an arraignments video.

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Find A Criminal Process in Brevard County Lawyer in Melbourne, Florida

If you or your loved one is under investigation or has been arrested in Brevard County Florida for allegedly committing a criminal offense, you should immediately seek legal representation. The The Law Offices of James B. Coulter will be by your side and fight for the best possible outcome with the fewest possible consequences throughout the entire criminal justice process.

Our firm serves all of the greater Melbourne Florida areas, county of Brevard, as well as the entire state or Florida, and we also represent many out-of-state tourists who were arrested while visiting on vacation, business, or simply just traveling through. Our Brevard County criminal process attorney will provide a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call (321) 586-9944 to set up a free consultation.

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Law Offices of James B. Coulter
1402 Highway A1A, Ste A Satellite Beach , FL 32937
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The information provided on this website is for general information purposes only. The legal information you obtain at this website is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult a criminal defense lawyer in Orlando, FL, for advice regarding your own individual situation.
We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us, however, does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until after an attorney-client relationship has been established.