Criminal Court Process: A Guide to Court Dates and Hearings

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Criminal Court Process

 

Arrested? Wondering if and when you will see a judge? Below we go through the Criminal Court Process and list the different types of court dates that may occur during your criminal case. They are listed in the general order that they happen. Not every criminal case has every court date listed below.

First Appearance

When to Expect:  24 hours after your arrest.

Florida’s Constitution requires that you appear in front of a judge within 24 hours of your arrest. This court appearance is also known as an advisory. It occurs within 24 hours of your arrest. This court date will not occur if you have already posted bond and have been released from jail.

In certain cases, the arresting agency will not give you a bond. For example, if you have been charged with a serious crime or a domestic-related crime, the arresting agency may leave you at a “no bond” status. You cannot be released from jail when you have a “no bond” status and must await your First Appearance court date for a judge to address your bond.

Arraignment

When to Expect:  Approximately four weeks after arrest.

This date generally occurs within three to four weeks of your arrest. At this court date, a judge officially informs you of the charges the state has filed or intends to file against you. You respond that you are either guilty or not guilty of the charge. If you have retained a criminal attorney, he or she will most likely waive your appearance at this court hearing.

If you have not retained an attorney, the court will inquire as to your need for a public defender. Many jurisdictions appoint a public defender at your arraignment. Others require you to fill out an application to determine your eligibility. In order to receive the services of a public defender, you will have to swear under oath (either in court or on your application) that your wages and assets are below a predetermined amount.

Pretrial Conference

When to Expect:  Every three to four weeks after the arraignment until the case is resolved.

A pretrial conference is a court date to determine if you want to enter a plea agreement or need additional time to prepare a motion. The number of pretrial court dates depends on the complexity of the issues involved in your case.

Several pretrial conferences may be required so that your attorney can adequately prepare your defense. For example, your attorney may choose to engage in plea negotiations, conduct depositions, file motions, and/or prepare for trial. Your attorney may choose to waive your appearance at one or more pretrial conferences.

Each pretrial conference is also a chance for your attorney to discuss the case with the prosecutor as well as address small issues with the judge. For example, if the prosecutor is late with his or her discovery obligation (providing your attorney with the evidence being used against you), your criminal lawyer can address it with the judge at a pretrial conference.

Motion To Dismiss

When to Expect:  Set by your attorney after discovery is complete.

A motion to dismiss requests complete dismissal of the charge against you. A motion to dismiss is appropriate when the State’s Attorney would not be able to prove your case even if the facts as alleged were true.

Motions to dismiss are often done without testimony; instead, they are done with arguments from the attorney and the prosecutor (each of whom will likely cite one or more pieces of case law). If you win your motion to dismiss, the charge against you is dismissed and you will not have other court dates.

Motion To Suppress

When to Expect:  Set by your attorney after discovery is complete.

In many cases, police officers overstep their bounds during the investigation and subsequent arrest process. If they have violated your constitutional rights with an improper search or seizure of you or your property or person, your attorney may file a motion to suppress evidence.

In effect, your attorney is asking the judge to recognize that the police and the State violated your rights by not allowing them to introduce certain evidence against you at trial. Depending on the illegal conduct, this can damage or even obliterate the State’s case.

Motions to suppress usually happen before trial. Sometimes judges allow motions to be heard the day of trial. Generally, you are present during your motion to dismiss hearing.

A Trial in the Criminal Court Process

As part of the Criminal Court Process, a trial can be by jury or conducted in front of a judge (a bench trial). A trial occurs when an accused individual maintains his or her innocence and pleads not guilty throughout all court dates leading to trial. Your presence is required at trial. At trial, the state must prove that the accused committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

If the accused is found guilty, a judge determines a sentence. If the State fails to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the crime, the jury or judge will find him or her not guilty. Thus, the accused will not receive any punishment — even if he or she actually committed the crime!

DO I HAVE TO ATTEND EVERY COURT DATE?

In most cases, your criminal defense attorney can get permission for you to miss court while he or she attends on your behalf.  However, different judges have different rules. Be sure to check with your lawyer before every court date to see if you must attend.

 

What Our Clients Say

I was referred to Lee Pearlman and his office by a mutual acquaintance and I am SO GLAD I was! I was so impressed at how professional everything was handled and I know I put pressure on him from the start expressing I wanted this resolved quickly. Not only was the entire staff friendly and punctual, they were incredibly understanding of my needs and concerns over my case. He is one of the best in the business there is no doubt about that! So much so, that he got my charges dropped after only a few short weeks! I cried happy tears to say the least and I am happy with how quick he was. I would strongly recommend him if you need a strong and effective lawyer! The staff even sent me a birthday card, so thoughtful, and I was truly thankful for all of the great service I received.
Kandice Watson
Kandice Watson
16:24 21 Sep 20
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Patrick Wise
Patrick Wise
22:45 28 Aug 20
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Lori Spaulding
Lori Spaulding
16:12 27 Aug 20
Lee Pearlman is the best Attorney around Tampa Bay Area!!! He makes you feel comfortable, responsive, & knows shows true professionalism. He’s very passionate in what he does!! I’ll forever be grateful and will always recommend Lee to anyone.
Nolan T
Nolan T
20:21 18 Aug 20
I have retained Lee Pearlman on two separate occasions. I trust Lee, and he will fight for you, to get you the best outcome on your particular case. Lee was very professional, I am very satisfied with his work and will always call him if I am in need of an attorney.
Lisa Korosec
Lisa Korosec
19:00 17 Aug 20
I have used this law firm on 3 separate occasions, and each time I am more impressed. Lee is a great lawyer and a fighter. He doesn’t treat you like a file on the desk. Him or Ashley were always accessible to answer any questions or concerns. On my case, Lee went the extra mile to get a case that seemed hopeless, dismissed. I would recommend Lee to my friends and family and would go nowhere else.
Ted Papa
Ted Papa
12:58 04 Aug 20
Lee Pearlman was my attorney in a recent case and made the process so easy for me. With his knowledge, expertise, and reasonable price, I would definitely hire again.
Molly McCoy
Molly McCoy
16:10 17 Jun 20
Lee Pearlman was my criminal defense attorney. He made the process so easy for me with his knowledge and expertise. Also, gave me a great price. Super satisfied with his services. Would definitely hire again.
Molly McCoy
Molly McCoy
15:59 17 Jun 20
I was recommend to Lee and he was the best recommendation for me. He was upbeat, knowledgeable and followed through with everything he said he would. He loves what he does...you can tell. He is darn good at it! I really appreciate his work. Thank you again Lee!
Kay Morgan
Kay Morgan
17:38 09 Apr 20
Lee Pearlman did an amazing job handling my girlfriend's criminal traffic violation. He kept us updated every step of the way and ultimately the charges were dismissed. I would recommend this law firm to anyone!
Jonathan Clifford
Jonathan Clifford
17:03 09 Apr 20
Thank you to Lee Pearlman at Denmon Pearlman for all his help. He was professional and friendly. I would recommend this firm to friends & family. If you’re ever in a bind and need a lawyer, choose Denmon Pearlman! They get the job done. 👍🏽
Michelle Mash
Michelle Mash
15:07 07 Apr 20
Thank you to Mr. Lee Pearlman for all his knowledge & support. I would recommend him to anyone! During this interesting time with Covid-19, with the courts being closed, he was able to get our case dropped within a reasonable amount of time. He was professional & very helpful. Thank you again for all your help.
Michelle Lee
Michelle Lee
00:43 07 Apr 20
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Jason Raney
Jason Raney
23:59 06 Apr 20
I can't say enough good things about my experience with my attorney Lee. His encouragement throughout the process was vital in calming the nerves of this 1st time offender. He had immediate responsiveness to my calls and texts and never gave any false hope concerning possible outcomes. He was able to get charges dropped and maintained my clean record. I highly recommend this law firm for its professionalism and quality of service.
Jennifer Alexander
Jennifer Alexander
19:34 30 Mar 20
Lee Pearlman and the Denmon Pearlman team were great. They did high quality work for a reasonable price. We couldn't have won our case without them. Lee made us feel informed and confident throughout the process. Thank you!
William Ruff
William Ruff
22:23 27 Mar 20
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Ashley Ziegler
Ashley Ziegler
15:43 20 Feb 20
I would absolutely recommend Denmon and Pearlman to anyone in need of legal services! Lee Pearlman is hands down one of the most professional and efficient attorneys, His associates are just as knowledgeable, and they Immediately responded to any of my inquiries. I have found my firm for life and would recommend them to anyone I come across. Thank you so much for all of your support and services throughout my situation.
Christina Bosco
Christina Bosco
15:41 03 Feb 20
I would absolutely recommend Denmon and Pearlman to anyone in need of legal services! Lee Pearlman is hands down one of the most professional and efficient attorneys, His associates are just as knowledgeable, and they Immediately responded to any of my inquiries. I have found my firm for life and would recommend them to anyone I come across. Thank you so much for all of your support and services throughout my situation.
Christina Bosco
Christina Bosco
15:39 03 Feb 20
Lee pearlemen was absolutely the best and he really focused on my case. He is the man to go to whenever you need help.This was my first charge and I was scared until I hired Lee pearlemen. absolutely the best decision I could make. I owe him a whole lot and I have no regrets .If you need a good lawyer Lee Pearlemen is the man to go to!!
Jacob Braden
Jacob Braden
17:34 21 Jan 20
Lee Pearlman and his team are great! if your thinking of allowing a public defender in the adult system represent you I would strongly encourage you not to do that, but to call these people! They have done nothing but achieve positive quick results. I want to specifically thank Shadi! He is so eager and motivated. He keeps in touch with you and explains everything every step of the way. He was so great that he showed up to court on THANKSGIVING morning. Who does that? Shadi does! Thanks again Shadi and Lee!
krystal Speeler
krystal Speeler
20:50 15 Dec 19
Lee worked hard and treated me like he was representing a family friend! The entire office staff were very attentive and I was able to get the best outcome possible! Thank You LEE!!! UPDATE!!!!! Exactly As I was told is exactly what the outcome was in the end! The best case scenario happened due to the skill and hard work of this firm!!!!!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!!!
Matthew Garcia
Matthew Garcia
20:28 29 Oct 19
Nicole and Lee go the extra mile to represent various client needs, and work with you as a whole human being, being considerate and kind, as well as being thorough and fearless as well. I have utilized their services in 3 different scenarios, and every time, I was thrilled with their representation. Hire Lee or Nicole for anything - for everything. Fantastic lawyers and fantastic people.
Nicki Wright
Nicki Wright
13:27 08 Oct 19
Lee Pearlman.
amilkar valenzuela
amilkar valenzuela
17:09 22 Sep 19
February of 2019 I ran into a very problematic legal matter, it put my healthcare license and my very livelihood on the line. I didn’t have anyone to turn to and my family left me on my own, I was lost and, honestly, things were looking bleak. I was recommended Mr. Lee Pearlman and went to meet with him, without much hope for how things would turn out. Not only was Mr. Pearlman understanding of the situation, he was so friendly and calm that my problem seemed less like the end of the world and more like an unfortunate bump in the road. It took a couple of months but he fought for me to return to work and explained the process so that I could actually understand the legal lingo. It has taken more time and dedication than I ever thought, but my life is back on track and I cannot thank Lee enough for fighting for me. I had very low expectations for how things would turn out, but Lee blew them out of the water and helped me more than I thought possible. If you are looking for someone that won’t judge your mistakes and will try his hardest to help you, I cannot recommend Lee Pearlman enough. He and his staff were always so nice and I will genuinely miss seeing them all.
Jana Easton
Jana Easton
22:37 10 Sep 19
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Nikki Jay
Nikki Jay
18:47 07 Jun 19
Been with Lee Pearlman for quite a bit of time. He's EXCELLENT!!! He's well known and extremely well liked by Defense teams, Prosecution teams and Judges alike. If anyone can get the job done, it's Lee!! He was also there for me on the emotional level as I was scared and very upset over everything we were going through. He continued to reassure me that it was all going to be alright!! He certainly helped our family through a very tough time and got the BEST outcome that could have been gotten. I truly wouldn't trust any other attorney to handle any legal situation. Thank You from the bottom of my heart Lee, for EVERYTHING!!!! GOD BLESS YOU
Hope Fuller Lane
Hope Fuller Lane
23:51 25 Feb 19
I have personally had the opportunity to work first hand with attorneys Lee Pearlman and Klarika Caplano, as well as multiple other members of the firm’s staff. The attention and dedication I received is top notch, and they are always available to answer questions or address any concerns. This firm will do everything in their power to obtain the most favorable outcome possible.
Jon Appleton
Jon Appleton
21:19 03 Jan 19
This law firm handles a multitude of different types of cases. I have personally retained them for family and for an auto accident as well as been very close to someone who Lee and Jake represented in a criminal case. That case was long and drawn out and The State seemed to of had the upper hand until Lee and Jake came on and ended up going through a two day trial. Without them the outcome did not look good but because of them a NOT GUILTY verdict came through and he was clear of everything. We are so thankful for the entire team at Denmon Pearlman for all the situations they have helped us through. They were efficient, kind, caring and available to answer our questions and concerns by phone, texts and emails quickly and always made us feel reassured, confident and happy because we knew they had our backs in every situation. I will definitely use them again if I’m ever in a situation of any type again. I have recommended them to many and I will continue to recommend them to anyone who is in need of help. 10 START RATING for sure!!
Roxanne Edens
Roxanne Edens
19:27 13 Nov 18
Lee Pearlman is fantastic! My brother had a difficult case and Mr. Pearlman stepped in and quite literally saved the day for my brother and our family. He is experienced, extremely kind, easy to get in contact with, and most importantly, gets the job done. Couldn’t be happier and if I’m ever in need of a lawyer again I’ll be going straight to him.
Lyndsey Dolan-King
Lyndsey Dolan-King
19:18 07 Sep 18
I have been opposing counsel against Lee on many occasions when I worked for the State Attorney's Office. He is by far one of the most talented attorneys I have ever met. His professionalism and passionate advocacy for his clients is only matched by his skill in the courtroom. Great lawyer!
Justin Reep
Justin Reep
17:57 26 Jun 18
Unfortunately I've had a couple of things to clear up in the last couple years. FORTUNATELY..I found Lee Pearlman. He's very professional, pays attention to detail and his ability to make you feel safe and calm is fantastic. He's smart and personable, I honestly think had we met under different circumstances, we would be good friends.
Scott Michael
Scott Michael
18:04 04 May 18
It's hard to believe it's been 4 years since my husband was cleared on two charges stemming back to 1986. Thank you so much Lee Pearlman for representing my husband. When we found out about the 28 year old warrant we drove down to Florida w/o an attorney and hit the yellow pages and Google. We believe the Lord led us to Lee Pearlman. He took our case and worked tirelessly until my husband was, not only released, but freed of both charges!! Because of Lee, my husband is now in contact with his mom, that he had not seen in 36 years. He was told she had passed away. Thank you Lee, there's not enough money in the world that could repay you for what you have given us. Freedom is a wonderful thing.
Jeannette Newman Fehr
Jeannette Newman Fehr
16:12 28 Apr 18
The amount of gratitude and thanks I want to express to Lee and his team is unfathomable. Lee’s communication and professionalism during this difficult time for me was exceptional. He always kept me informed during each step of the process. It is evident that Lee has a tremendous of respect within the court system, which led to my favorable result. Results; which at the end of the day is the most important thing when searching for a Law firm. I couldn’t recommend a better Lawyer than Lee Pearlman.
Lee- thank you so much for everything during this time!
Martin Smith
Martin Smith
00:28 03 Feb 18
Lee Pearlman, a phenomenal defense attorney! And now a family friend! Being unsure where to start in finding a lawyer to represent my husband, I reached out to a co-workers husband that is a lawyer, and for our particular case, he let me know that if he were in my husband's situation, he would want Lee for the job. I am happy to say that was the best advice he could have provided to me because it did not disappoint. From the beginning stages, pre-trials, motions, bond hearing to trial he offered great insight of how things could play out always keeping me informed. Lee moved with a purpose; he didn't delay, his time efficiency moving thru our case as quickly as possible and got the job done. His ability to use other resources when necessary was essential. Nicole Denmon paired with Lee in the trial were a fantastic team and went above and beyond to battle for us. Going thru an experience like that isn't one you would hope ever to go thru, but the entire staff is so friendly, professional and helpful. This office of people just made the experience the very best it could be!
Jodi Sue Holcomb
Jodi Sue Holcomb
19:38 24 Jan 18
Look no further, you have found the best law firm ever created. It will be the best decision you make adding them to your team. Unparalleled and unmatched they indeed set the standard & raised the bar and are shaping the future for attorneys. I was appointed Lee Pearlman in my case. I was looking at a capital offense, so my life was literally in his hands. My wife hired him, and we both can say he is the best attorney out there. But he is also an amazing person. With such a scary monster of a case I had and my life on the line, they gave me peace of mind throughout the whole situation. It wasn't a simple case with a few moving parts, but Lee showed versatility, depth and with a tremendous amount of resources to handle any problem or situation. He kept everything realistic for me and managed everything promptly, pushing relentlessly to resolve my case and get me home to my family. He went way above the call of duty; he was there for me, my wife, my son, and family every step of the way. Even though we didn't have all the money, you could tell it wasn't about the money but rather his compassion for fighting for truth and justice. He handled a capital offense in 10months; he definitely is a trial attorney. He will take it the distance for you with the best qualities an attorney could have. He is aggressive, professional, confident, focused, talented, trustworthy and extremely knowledgeable. His skill and hard work are surpassed only by his modesty and compassion with attention to detail. He will get the job done. Lee added Nicole Denmon to assist on my case in trial, and I can say the same for her. Truly an amazing team, the best attorneys and phenomenal firm I can call family. Thank you for everything.
Honey Honeycomb
Honey Honeycomb
16:19 24 Jan 18
If you have a personal injury, Lee Pearlman is the attorney you need to see. He and his assistants, Ashley and Anisley are number one in my book. They were always available to answer questions and fought for me all the way. Thank you Denmon Pealman Law Firm!!
Marsha Fowler
Marsha Fowler
00:54 10 Jan 18
Mr Lee Pearlman is a outstanding attorney he has been a great help to me for many years now and always dose what he says. Ive recommended him to family and friends. He has always comes out on top he is a 5 star lawyer. Thank you
Chris Piedra
Chris Piedra
20:54 28 Nov 17
Mr. Lee Pearlman is THE GUY. He is charismatic, respectful, intelligent and the BEST at what he does. I would recommend no one else to my friends and family. From the beginning stages of fright and uncertainty, all the way to the trial and the verdict of Not Guilty, he was there to answer my questions, quell my uncertainties and deliver exactly what he promised. Mrs. Adriane Ovcharenko was equally as charismatic and fantastic during the trial. It is safe to assume everyone at Denmon Pearlman hold themselves to a standard above the rest and deliver exactly that.
Kevin James Mark
Kevin James Mark
17:28 16 Aug 17