Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

Florida Legal Article: Florida Criminal Defense Attorney


The United States Constitution gives citizens the right to a speedy trial. Under the Sixth Amendment, a trial must be held within a certain period of time after a person has been charged with committing a crime. Defendants can waive this right through their Florida criminal defense attorney if they choose to ask for additional time to prepare their defense.

Florida law grants specific speedy trial rights to residents accused of crimes. Those rights include:
 

  • Speedy trial without demand: Defendants will typically be brought to trial within 90 days after arrest when charged with committing a misdemeanor, and within 175 days of arrest if charged with committing a felony.
  • Speedy trial with demand: With some limited exceptions, every Florida resident charged with a crime has the right to demand a trial be held within 60 days.

Defendants charged with crimes can sometimes reach a “plea agreement” with the prosecuting attorney, although prosecutors are not legally required to make any such arrangement. Most plea agreements allow the defendant to plead guilty–usually to a lesser charge–and often allow for a lighter sentence in exchange for the guilty plea. This will completely depend upon the facts of the case and the discretion of the prosecutor, however. Defendants should consult with their Florida criminal defense attorney in order to decide if this is their best course of action.

Defendants who are charged with a crime punishable by six or more months of imprisonment typically have the right to a jury trial. Their Florida criminal defense attorney may advise them to waive this right by either pleading guilty or choosing a bench trial (a trial presided over and decided by a judge). Should you request a bench trial, the judge performs the same fact-finding function that is usually performed by the jury.

If you are found guilty of committing a crime during trial, you are entitled to an appeals process. The process can vary, depending upon the nature of the crime, but remember that there will always be time deadlines for filing an appeal. If you or your Florida criminal defense attorney miss those filing deadlines, you will likely be prevented from the appeals process altogether.

Under Florida law, you generally have 30 days after the sentencing phase to file an appeal. Reasons for filing an appeal are numerous, ranging from legal error to juror misconduct. Legal error can include a Florida criminal defense attorney’s failure to object to the prosecution presenting inadmissible evidence during your trial or the lack of sufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict, or even the judge giving the jury improper instructions. Another situation that can lead to filing an appeal is newly-discovered evidence that will exonerate you.

Should you enter a guilty or no contest plea through your Florida criminal defense attorney, however, you can directly appeal only for the following reasons:
 

  • The court lacked subject matter jurisdiction, meaning the court that tried your case did not have proper authority to decide the case based on the subject matter;
  • There was a violation of the plea agreement;
  • Your plea was involuntary;
  • There was a sentencing error; or
  • As otherwise provided by law.
Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

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