Get Arrested, Get Out of Trouble

There are three things you should know if you have been arrested. First, find a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Second, do not talk to the police. Third, don’t plead guilty at your first court appearance. These are three of the most important things you can do after an arrest because they could save your life and your future!

Find a Criminal Defense Attorney ASAP After an Arrest

First off, when you’re arrested it is absolutely crucial that you find a criminal defense attorney right away. You need someone who knows the law and is experienced in defending people in your situation (i.e. I am going to the bail bonds man in Tampa). You need someone who will work hard to get you out of jail or make your sentences as light as possible.

One of the most important things a criminal defense attorney can do is advise you not to talk to the police. The police are looking for people who have something to say, and they will try their absolute hardest to get it out of you. They use many tactics that may trick you or scare you into talking. They may remind you that this is your one chance to tell your side of the story. They might even threaten other charges if they don’t think what happened sounds like a crime at all, starting with obstruction of justice! It’s very easy for an innocent person in a scary situation (like being arrested) to forget why he should remain silent, so it’s crucial that he practices silence with his attorney beforehand — especially if his attorney has told him not talk!

Do Not Plead Guilty at Your First Court Appearance!

While some attorneys may encourage their clients to plead guilty at their first court appearance so that they can get up front money immediately and move on with their lives, I would never advise such a thing in Florida courts where judges have huge backlogs and rarely adjourn cases without seeing everyone first anyway (i.e. when I was a public defender).

The best thing you can do after your first court appearance is to plead not guilty and prepare for trial. In Florida, the prosecutor has 60 days to file formal charges against you after your arrest. This allows you time to find a criminal defense attorney, discuss the case with him or her, and prepare for trial. However, if the prosecutor files charges within 60 days of your arrest (which they often do) it’s very important that you plead not guilty! If the judge attempts to enter a plea of “guilty” on your behalf at arraignment, please instruct him or her that “not guilty” is what you wish to plead instead! The judge will then likely set another date for an arraignment hearing where both parties will appear before the court again and argue their cases in front of a judge — this time with each side represented by an attorney! Your criminal defense attorney may have filed certain motions regarding discovery requests which may be heard at this stage as well. Once these motions are resolved by the court, one of two things can happen: 1) The case will be adjourned again until later so that both sides have more time; 2) Either party (usually represented by their attorneys) can suggest that they are ready for trial now and ask permission from the court. In either case, it’s very important that you do not plead guilty at this time (which is largely up to the discretion of the judge). Plea bargaining happens behind closed doors. It should not be conducted in open court!

At the risk of stating the obvious: if you are charged with a crime, you have every right to fight that charge. If your attorney tells you otherwise, fire him or her and find someone else. The only way it makes sense for your attorney to plead guilty as soon as possible is if he or she thinks you are very likely to lose at trial anyway. That’s a sticky situation because it goes back to my first point about finding an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows Florida criminal law! If anyone tells you something else — especially that they want to take your money and run — watch out! It’s a serious problem when there aren’t enough good attorneys currently working because so many people have been hurt by bad ones in recent years (see below). But once again, I’m going off on tangents.

When you’re arrested, do not talk to the police. If you are charged with a crime, plead not guilty and go to trial! It is rarely in your best interests to plead guilty at your first court appearance or before talking to an attorney. This is because plea bargaining happens behind closed doors and should not be conducted in open court! Finally, find a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after an arrest!

I hope this information has been helpful. If it has, please share this post on Facebook or Twitter so that others may benefit from it as well. Thanks for reading and take care!

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