Formal Charges and Arraignment

Getting arrested may seem like the end all be all, but it is just the beginning of a possibly lengthy process. You must also be cognizant of the fact that an arrest doesn’t necessarily warrant criminal charges. The judicial system is incremental and, like every other case that enters the legal system, your case will have to progress from one stage to the next.

The source of immense anxiety for recently arrested individuals is the unknown. Not knowing what could happen next, the effect it may have, and what to do in preparation is enough to make an individual fear the worse. This is especially true for individuals with no prior criminal record. Those who have been recently arrested can expect the next couple weeks or months to include the following.

Filing Formal Charges

A criminal case starts with an arrest report which details the specifics of what led up to the arrest including witness names, time, date, and location of the incident. They also come with suggested charges presented by the arresting officer. This information makes up the charging affidavit.

The prosecutor at the State Attorney’s office reviews the documentation and — even with recommended charges by the arresting officer — has the final say in what charges to file. He or she will then likely pursue one of the following options:

  • Conclude to charge the individual and file a complaint
  • Have the case sent to a grand jury for them to decide what charges to file if any
  • Choose not to pursue the case

The weeks or even months between your first appearance and arraignment is a crucial period not only for the prosecution but also your defense. One of the most damaging things you could do during this period is forego the opportunity to acquire legal representation and allow the State Attorney’s Office to file the most damaging charges. This ultimately puts your legal defense at a disadvantage for future negotiations. Acquire a legal defense attorney who can initiate negotiations on your behalf for a more favorable outcome. Hiring a lawyer NOW can result in charges being reduced or dropped BEFORE the prosecutor decides to file charges. Speed is of the essence!

Arraignment Proceedings in Criminal Court

The arraignment hearing occurs after the prosecution has settled on what charges to file. This is often the first time the defendant is made aware of the charges unless he or she has acquired an attorney who has been in constant communication with the prosecution. An arraignment typically involves the defendant going in front of a judge who proceeds to do the following:

  • Read the criminal charges
  • Ask if the defendant has legal counsel or if he or she needs a court-appointed attorney
  • Ask if the defendant pleads guilty, not guilty, or no contest
  • Decide on altering the bail amount or to release the defendant on personal recognizance
  • Announce the dates of upcoming proceedings


If the first hearing has passed and you have yet to secure a criminal defense attorney, we urge that you do so immediately so that we can start fighting for you. The Orlando criminal defense lawyers at The Umansky Law Firm have over 100 years of combined legal experience and a thorough understanding of the legal system. Bring your case to us so we can start fighting for you today. Contact us at 407-228-3838 for a free case evaluation.

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