Just Arrested in West Palm Beach?
Call Our West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyers for Immediate Help
The first 24 hours after you've been arrested in West Palm Beach are extremely important. If you are unfamiliar with the inner-workings of the criminal justice system, it is not uncommon to become overwhelmed in this foreign arena. First, after you are arrested, you are taken to the Palm Beach County Jail, located on Gun Club Road in West Palm Beach, where you are "booked in" or "processed." The jail is located in a compound that consists of the jail, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, and a wing that contains two courtrooms.
The booking process can take several hours. Once you are booked in, you will remain in custody, until the following morning, at which time you will be taken from the jail to one of the courtrooms located at the Gun Club compound for your "First Appearance" hearing. However, be aware that some crimes are immediately assigned a bond upon booking, which do not require that you remain in custody until the following morning. These are discussed below.
Where Do I Get Information About the Arrestee?
Under Florida law, an arrestee must be brought before a Judge within 24 hours of his or her arrest. In Palm Beach County State Court, a new arrestee will always be brought before the Judge located at the Gun Club compound. The first hearing before the Gun Club Judge is called "First Appearance." This is a very important hearing for a number of reasons. Family members and friends of the arrestee may attend this hearing, and it is open to the public.
What Happens to You After an Arrest in West Palm Beach, Florida?
"First Appearance" is held at the Gun Club compound 7 days per week, 365 days per year. First Appearance is even held on all holidays. So, even if you are arrested on a Friday, you will see the Judge on Saturday. Likewise, if you are arrested on a Saturday, you will see the Judge on Sunday. First Appearance Hearings are held in the morning. Typically, it is held at 9:00 a.m. However, always call the Clerk's office to confirm the time of the hearing, as the time for weekend hearings often differ from the time this hearing takes place during the regular work week.
The purpose of having a First Appearance Hearing is two-fold: First, it is the time at which the Judge will briefly review the police reports to make sure there is Probable Cause for the arrest. Probable Cause, in the context of criminal law, is the standard of proof required for an individual's arrest. This standard of proof is very low. Second, if the Judge finds there was Probable Cause for the arrest, he or she will then determine if the arrestee is eligible for release.
Will the Arrestee Get Released?
In Florida, there are a number of ways an individual can be released. For example, a Judge can release someone "OR," which means on their own recognizance, or require "SOR," which is a supervised form of release, or the Judge can order a monetary bond. In some cases the Judge may order "House Arrest." Sometimes, the Judge may feel it necessary to order some form of supervised release, along with a monetary bond.
The most common form of release is a monetary bond. In the State of Florida - including West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Stuart, Boca Raton, Jupiter, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach and Wellington - almost all crimes are "bondable." In other words, the arrestee is entitled to a bond, absent a very few exceptions.
Should I Hire a Lawyer Prior to the First Appearance?
Yes. You should hire a West Palm Beach criminal attorney before you are arrested, if possible. But, if circumstances did not permit this, an attorney should be hired by family or friends immediately upon your arrest. It is important to start your defense preparations before the First Appearance hearing. Call us. We can make a difference.
Be sure to hire a qualified attorney for representation at First Appearance. Frequently, a monetary bond can be negotiated between the defense lawyer and the prosecutor prior to the Judge taking the bench. If this occurs, the parties advise the Judge that they have reached an agreed bond. Although the Judge has the final say, the Judge usually accepts the arrangement between the parties.
In the event your lawyer and the prosecutor cannot reach an agreement, it is important to have an attorney present so he or she can present evidence to the court, have family members heard, if appropriate, and present argument for a low monetary bond, or an "OR" release.
Your attorney will be able to present evidence to the court that may not otherwise have been known. Having a lawyer of your choosing will also speed the process. The Judge will always take the cases first where a private attorney has been hired. Once you are given a bond, the arrestee is taken back to the holding cell and returned to the Jail where he or she will wait until they are bonded out.
It is critical to begin your defense preparation prior to the First Appearance. We may need to preserve crucial evidence that the police neglected to gather. We have experienced investigators who can quickly speak to witnesses and take statements if necessary. All four of our lawyers were State Prosecutors in Palm Beach County. We know the system from both sides. This experience is priceless in mounting the best possible defense from the beginning of your case. We have been hired on numerous occasions, "to clean up the mess" created by lawyers who lack diligence, lack experience, or lack the time each case deserves.
How Do You Bond Someone Out of Jail?
There are two ways to get someone out of jail once the bond has been set by the Judge. First, a friend or family member can pay the bond directly at the Jail with either cash or a certified check. So, if the Bond is set at $10,000.00, the person posting the bond must bring $10,000.00 in cash or a certified check to the Jail before the arrestee can be processed for release. This money is returned in full once the criminal case has been completely resolved. Depending on the type of charge, a criminal case can take anywhere from 45 days to a year or more to be completed. The average time frame for a misdemeanor case is 4 months. The average time for a felony is 6 months to one year.
The second way to post a bond is by hiring a Bail Bonds person. Once you meet with the bonds person, he or she will go to the jail and post the bond on your behalf. Under Florida law, in State Court cases, the Bail Bonds person is entitled to 10% of the total bond as his or her non-refundable fee. A bonds person may also require collateral, typically, a house, before they will post the bond. This is to ensure that the arrestee attends all of his or her court hearings and does not flee. We can help you find a reputable Bail Bonds person and navigate you through this very difficult time.
How Do I Find a Reputable Bail Bonds Person?
Be very careful when selecting a bonds person. All Bail Bonds persons are required to follow the strict requirements of Florida Law in State Court cases. A Bail Bonds person is legally allotted a fee in the amount of 10% of the total bond. Be cautious when selecting a Bail Bonds person. There are many from which to choose. Be certain that you find an ethical and experienced individual.
Remember, "Buyer Beware." If it sounds too good to be true, it is! The Bail Bonds person is the individual monitoring you while you are out of Jail. Again, it is very important that you hire an ethical, reputable bonds person. We can provide you with assistance in making this important decision.
Why May I Not be Eligible for a Bond?
There are a very few offenses that are not bondable. These generally include very serious crimes, like Murder and Capital Sexual Battery. However, be aware, unbeknownst to most people, domestic violence charges, domestic assault and or battery, drug trafficking and crimes involving a violent act upon a person, are not automatically bondable. If arrested for one of these offenses, you must be detained until you see a Judge the following morning for First Appearance.
Is There a Way to Post a Bond Without Having to See a Judge at First Appearance?
Yes. As mentioned briefly above, there are many crimes which automatically get assigned a bond amount, and do not require that you see the Judge in the morning. Either you or your attorney can contact the Booking Department at the Jail. You can also check the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office website at: http://www.pbso.org/ and check the "Booking Blotter." Be aware that the booking process takes many hours. As such, you may be unable to obtain any information for several hours after the arrest. However, once the booking process is complete, the arrestee will be officially booked in and you will be able to obtain information regarding the bond as outlined above.
Just Arrested in Federal Court?
The arrest process differs substantially when arrested in Federal Court. Once arrested, you will be brought before a Federal Magistrate to determine if pre-trial release is appropriate. The Federal Probation Officer will meet with you and conduct a thorough background check on the accused. This interview will include prior arrest history, employment, family, financial and assets. It is important to have an experienced lawyer with the accused throughout all stages of a Federal prosecution.
The first hearing is a Detention Hearing. At this hearing the Federal Magistrate will consider the strength of the government's case, the accused's background and the Government's recommendation. At the Detention Hearing, the accused's lawyer will be able to object to certain types of evidence and present legal argument as to why the accused deserves to be released while the case is pending.
Many Federal offenses, including all drug charges, come with the presumption that the accused be detained and not be released.
If the accused is granted pre-trial release, it can be in the form of a bond. One type is a Surety Bond. A Surety Bond carries a 15% premium, or fee, to the Bail Bonds person. An accused can also sign a Personal Surety promising to attend all court proceedings. An accused may be required to post property or money directly with the Clerk of Court or a combination of both. The Federal Magistrate can also impose restrictions on the arrestee. Some of these may include travel restrictions, house arrest, surrendering passport, drug testing and freezing of assets, such as bank accounts.
Will the Crime I Was Arrested for be the Same as the One I'm Ultimately Charged With?
In State Court, the first 30 days following the First Appearance Hearing are critical. You will have an "Arraignment" hearing approximately 30-45 days after your arrest. Law enforcement officers make arrests for the crime they believe the evidence supports. However, it is the State Attorney in State Court, or the U.S. District Attorney in Federal Court, both referred to as the "Prosecutor," who make the final determination of what exact crime(s) to charge the accused with.
Under Florida law, one person, an Assistant State Attorney, decides what Felony an individual should be charged with. All Felony charges are determined by this one prosecutor. The only exception is First Degree Murder, which is brought before a Grand Jury.
It is very important to hire a West Palm Beach criminal attorney prior to the Arraignment. It is critical to hire a trusted, experienced lawyer who knows the inner workings of the prosecutor's office. At Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A., all four of our lawyers are former prosecutors who are very familiar with the inner workings of the prosecutor's office.
Remember, unless you hire an attorney prior to the Arraignment, the only evidence that the prosecutor, who is reviewing your case will have before he or she charges you with a crime(s) is the negative, incriminating, or one-sided version of events given to him or her by police officers. There is always two sides to every story. Unless you immediately hire a well-respected, trusted lawyer who can present the other side of the story to the prosecutor, your side will NOT be heard until AFTER you are charged with a crime; or, in other words, when it is too late to prevent you from being charged with a crime.
Remember, a prosecutor has the power to drop or "No File" a charge. A prosecutor also has the power to lower criminal charges from a felony to a misdemeanor. Again, this is why it is so important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how both sides of the system work, who knows what the prosecutor is looking for, and who knows what to present in order to get you the best result possible.
Unfortunately, some police officers are trained salespeople. They hide evidence that will exonerate or lessen the severity of the offense. Unless you have an aggressive, well-trained criminal defense attorney who knows how to attack and challenge the presentation of evidence as put forth by law enforcement, you may be charged with a crime that is unwarranted, or of which you are completely innocent. Unless you have a respected criminal defense attorney aggressively advocating for you, the chances of you having your charges "No Filed" or lowered are very slim.
What is more important that your life? Why would you not want a lawyer who has experience with both sides of the criminal justice system? Call us now. We understand the enormous strain you are undergoing. We understand the urgency of your situation. Our guarantee is to provide you with 100% commitment and excellence. We would expect no less for our loved ones, and we provide no less for yours. Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. represents clients throughout Florida, including West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Lake Worth, Jupiter, Wellington, Fort Lauderdale, Delray Beach and Stuart.