Criminal Defense Trial Attorney in Broward, Palm Beach and Martin Counties
Everyone arrested is entitled to see a judge/magistrate within 24 hours. It is referred to as "first appearance". The purpose of the hearing is to allow the judge to review your police report and your prior criminal history, if any, and set the amount of your bond. The majority of people do not have the opportunity to retain an attorney in this short time. However, a public defender, a lost cost attorney, is present and you will likely have less than a minute to discuss your case with them. There is no way that you can relay your side of the story and have them come up with appropriate defenses in such a short time. Additionally, the purpose of the first appearance is to set bond. It is NOT A TIME to share your defenses with the judge. I hear from many clients that they are told by the public defender that if they want this case to be done/finished today they can get out of jail by signing a document. DO NOT DO THAT! If you are signing a document, a plea form, at the first appearance then you are pleading no contest or guilty to the charges and you are accepting guilt. That means that you will never have another day in court and you may now be convicted of the crime. If convicted, you can not expunge or erase your record. If you receive a withhold of adjudication which is common in Broward county then you can only seal your record. There are some types of cases that cannot be sealed or expunged. The point being, at the first appearance hearing you should do nothing other then listen to the judge. The judge should be setting a bond. Do not plea bargain your case here. If you do so you may be giving up your opportunity to win.
* No client/ attorney relationship is formed without a retainer and compensation. If you need advice on your case then you can retain me. This video does not constitute legal advice.