Arrested in Orlando, So what’s Next?
1. Arrested in Orlando: Being arrested is not a fun thing, especially when the police or witnesses aren’t telling the truth. But what happens when you are arrested in Orlando? Let’s walk through the steps of being arrested in Orlando. When you are arrested you are either being held on no bail or bail. Some offenses require that you see the judge (you see the judge within 24 hours of arrest) before you get bail, while some allow for immediate bond, while others are serious enough where you never get bail (absent a great motion by an experienced attorney, examples- murder, capital sexual battery, etc). So the first decision you will likely have to make is whether to bond or not to bond.
2. Bonding Out: After you are arrested in Orlando, bonding out is the smart move in many cases but not in all cases. When is it smart to bond out? In most instances when you plan on fighting the charge it is smart to bond out after you are arrested. This is because speed is not on your side. From the moment you are arrested in Orlando (often before you are arrested) evidence is being collected against you. The case is being created, yet what case is being created to defend yourself? No knock on the public defender’s office, but it’s often times almost a week after your arrest before an attorney is even assigned to your case. What’s being preserved during that week? What’s not being preserved? What potentially great evidence is simply disappearing before you have a chance to even realize it. Yes we all know there is a presumption of innocence but the reality is most juries have a difficult time following the law. Whether they will admit to it or not, they want evidence from the Defense. By bonding out you are able to: (a) find an experienced criminal defense lawyer by personally interviewing several and finding the one who you like best; (b) helping that lawyer find evidence and build your defense; (c) allow your lawyer to subpoena time-sensitive videos and documentation that may be lost if the lawyer doesn’t act fast. Most lawyers have an investigator that works for them, but the Defendant is often times the best investigator in a case. They have access to their accounts, to their phone records, to text messages, to calls, and to witnesses. Good criminal defense lawyers will help utilize your own expertise to help in your defense.
3. Preparing your case: When you are arrested in Orlando, the first thing your lawyer does is help you prepare your defense. Regardless of the facts and regardless of whether you plan to plea or take the case to trial: a good offense is often a good defense. If you intend to plea your lawyer will be entering into a negotiation with the state attorney. Negotiations need leverage, and if you ever want to receive a truly good plea offer what better way to get the offer than to have your case prepared well and have a good chance of actually winning the case at trial?
4. Deciding to take the plea or go to trial?: When you are arrested in Orlando, start thinking about your goals. Realize Innocent people take pleas all the time (see Ray Lewis). Innocent people lose at trial all the time (see the innocence project). I never advocate for an innocent person to take a plea. In fact the first goal should always be to have an innocent person’s case DISMISSED. But what if it comes to a point where there is no dismissal? What if you are facing Murder and the State offers you a plea to misdemeanor assault? Do you take it? Deciding to take the plea or go to trial often comes down to one basic analysis: Does the plea offer give me enough incentive not to go to trial? If you are being charged with Murder and the State offers you Assault, there is a great incentive to take the plea offer: if you lose at trial (even if you are innocent) you do life in prison, you will likely stay in jail for many months while the case is prepared for trial, new evidence can be revealed that changes the case dramatically (possibly hurting your case significantly). In comparison a simple assault carries no real stain on your history, it’s a misdemeanor, and you will be free with no risk of going to prison. Clearly there is MASSIVE INCENTIVE to take that deal. But what if the offer is 25 years in prison and the max penalty for the crime is 30 years in prison? In this scenario most people would agree that there is no incentive not to go to trial, regardless of guilt, because the offer is essentially a max offer. The State is not giving you an incentive not to gamble. If you go to trial and lose, your sentence may actually be even better than the State’s offer! (Note: there are pleas to the bench that fill in the middle ground here. If you have questions about your full range of options you need to call an attorney and discuss the case and possible consequences).