Law enforcement officers can arrest you if they have a probable cause to believe that you committed a crime. For misdemeanors, though, the officer needs to have witnessed you commit the crime to arrest you. However, misdemeanors like domestic violence are exempted from this rule.

A law enforcer may seek an arrest warrant from a judge or magistrate, or arrest you on the spot. If you are arrested today, you should appear in court within 24 hours. And that is why you need the right Tampa criminal defense attorney on your side. After that, the case will be set for an arraignment in a Tampa court where you will be formally informed of the charge and answer by taking a plea.

What Determines Whether I’m Arraigned or Not?

Sufficient evidence linking you to the crime can have you arraigned in court. However, your defense attorney can present favorable evidence and request the prosecutor not to file any formal charges or reduce the charges altogether.

An experienced Tampa defense lawyer can convince the prosecutor to allow your case to go into Pre-Trial Intervention or Misdemeanor intervention. Upon successful completion of Pre-Trial or Misdemeanor Intervention, you can have the charges dropped and save yourself from prison and hefty fines.

If the prosecutor decides not to file the charges, he/she can terminate the prosecution by filing a “Letter of Release” or a “No Information.” Working with a criminal defense lawyer in Tampa increases your chances of getting the best outcomes from a criminal case.

How Do Law Enforcers Arrive at Arrest and Arraignment of Suspects?

If a suspect wasn’t arrested on the scene of a crime, the prosecutor reviews all the evidence collected by law enforcers, including police reports. And if there is a high likelihood of successful prosecution, he/she may file charges.

For misdemeanors, you will receive an email to summon you to appear in court. But if you are charged for a felony, an arrest warrant is usually issued. Remember that once you are arrested, you should appear in court within 24 hours. Subsequently, the clerk will set the case for arraignment after the first appearance in court.

I’m I Entitled to a Bond Before Arraignment?

Unless you are charged with a felony, life or capital offense whose sentences are usually life imprisonment without parole, you can be released on bond in Tampa, FL. At the first appearance in court, the judge or magistrate will check the reasonableness of the defendant’s bond amount.

The defendant can also be released on a signature bond without posting any money in some circumstances.

What’s the Purpose of an Arraignment?

Arraignment allows the defendant to take a plea – guilty or not guilty, or no contest. This happens after being briefed on the charges brought against you and whether they’ve been filed. You will also learn the kind of punishment or sentencing that the prosecutor is seeking.

Must the Defendant Be Present During the Arraignment?

You don’t have to be present at the arraignment if your attorney files a written plea of ‘not guilty’ on your behalf. The case can, thereafter, proceed to the pre-trial stage. However, if the arraignment is in a Florida drug court, the defendant must be present.

What Are My Rights During an Arraignment?

Every defendant has a right to legal representation. If one cannot afford an attorney, they can fill out a sworn statement to get an appointed lawyer. You also have a right to getting a reasonable amount of time to figure out how to plea.

How Should I Plea During an Arraignment?

After the formal reading of charges, the defendant must answer to them, plead Guilty, Not Guilty, or No Contest. And if you choose to stand mute, a Not Guilty plea will be recorded on your behalf. Here is a breakdown of the plea options;

Not Guilty

Pleading ‘Not Guilty’ can mean that you did not commit the offense. One can lay out the kind of defense to be offered by taking pleas like “Not Guilty by Reason of Self-Defense” or “Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity.”


The defendant can plead guilty because he or she committed the crime. It means that you are willing to accept the punishment that comes with the offense. One may receive sentencing on the spot, or it may be deferred to a later date.

No Contest (Nolo Contendere)

Taking this plea means that you are neither denying nor accepting that you committed the crime. Defendants use this option when they have made or hope to make a plea deal.

Is a Plea Deal Worth It?

The prosecutor and the defendant can enter into an agreement, where the latter is required to plead either No Contest or Guilty to get lenience in exchange. The accused person can enjoy reduced sentencing or charges.

In a plea deal, first degree felonies can be reduced to second or third-degree felonies. The defendant gets the advantage of less hefty fines or shorter jail time. It also saves you the hassle of a criminal trial and earns you a fairer sentence, especially when the evidence would easily implicate you.

Can I Change a Plea Deal?

You can withdraw from a plea deal with the help of a Tampa defense attorney. The legal representative will have to prove that the agreement was reached due to coercion, confusion, fear, or error. It is easier to change it before sentencing, though you can still withdraw from it afterward.

Legal Representation of a Criminal Defense Attorney in Tampa

While a public defender can represent you, he or she won’t be fully involved in your case. An experienced Tampa defense attorney will take their time to listen to you, understand the essential details of the case, and formulate a good defense.

If you are arrested today, stay calm. Remember not to say anything without the presence of your lawyer. And once your legal representative arrives, they will inquire about your charges and advise you appropriately.

Have you been charged for a misdemeanor or a felony in Tampa? Call Patrick B. Courtney on (813) 967-2000 for immediate assistance.