Step-by-Step Legal Assistance
Understanding Your Criminal Charges in West Palm Beach, FL
Crimes are always placed in one of three basic categories – infractions, misdemeanors or felonies.
- Infraction – A violation of the law, but usually constitutes behavior punishable by fines only.
- Misdemeanor – Defined as an offense lower than a felony and generally punishable by fine, penalty, forfeiture, or imprisonment other than in a penitentiary.
- Felony – A crime that typically involves violence, more serious than a misdemeanor, and usually punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or by death. When a person has committed a crime, and the police have been called for, the police will make an attempt to make an arrest.
Before a police officer can arrest anyone, there must be a probable cause. An oral complaint by a victim of or witness to a crime can be enough to support a probable cause. Even if there may not be enough evidence to support a probable cause, a policeman can detain a person for investigation based on the suspicion that a crime is about to or has taken place.
Police can arrest for any infractions, misdemeanor crimes, or felony crimes committed in their presence, or that are reported to them. Generally, the police cannot arrest for misdemeanors or infractions that are not committed in their presence. Victims or witnesses may perform a citizen's arrest, where they would arrest the suspect of the crime and turn them over to police for transport and booking.
The Method for Processing Crimes
The sequence of the legal process is:
- Arrest / Booking – After you are arrested and read your rights, you are booked and your personal information is recorded and you are fingerprinted and photographed
- Bail – This is an amount of money which the defendant needs to pay in order to be released until the next time they need to appear in court for a trial
- Referral for Prosecution – The case is passed to a prosecutor to file charges, and the prosecutor determines what charges are to be filed. If there is not enough supporting evidence for an accused crime, the charges will not be filed and the suspect is released.
For more serious felony crimes, there are nine basic parts of the criminal process:
- Bail Review
- First Readiness / Prelim Setting / Disposition Conference
- Preliminary Hearing
- Arraignment in Trial Court
- Pretrial Readiness Conference
- Motion Hearings
For help with this procedure, you need a strong ally who is going to fight for your rights and help you understand the process every step of the way. It can be quite daunting without the help of an experienced advocate who knows the legal system. It is very important that you contact a competent West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney if you are facing criminal charges – your future may depend on it.
Criminal Lawyer in West Palm Beach, FL
Here at The Law Offices of Phillip T. Ridolfo, Jr., I offer personalized, caring legal counsel and I work with all of my clients directly. You'll receive all of the experience of a bigger firm and yet the service of a smaller, more intimate firm.
Let me take some of the burden off your shoulders and lend a helping hand with sorting through the legal procedures.