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What is the Difference Between an Arraignment and a Pre-trial Conference in Florida?

Two of the main court dates that one has in the course of a criminal case are the arraignment and the pre-trial conference. At Soler and Slack, P.A. we often get asked by those not familiar with the court system what certain court dates mean and what happens at these court dates. What happens at each court date sometimes will depend on the case, but the following is the general answer as to what happens at each event.

First appearances is generally going to be the first court date that one attends after being arrested. To find out more about first appearances, check out our blog post on the subject here. The first court date you will have that addresses your case directly is arraignment. At arraignment, you will be informed by the judge of what the State has officially charged you with. At misdemeanor arraignment, you will likely get the first offer from the State—you do not have to take the offer. At felony arraignment, the State will not be there and nor will any defense attorneys. At both misdemeanor and felony arraignment, you will have the option of applying for the public defender or informing the court you will be hiring a private attorney. If you have already hired a private attorney, then you will not have to attend arraignments at all.

After arraignment, it is likely that your case will be set for a pre-trial conference (PTC). In some courts and jurisdictions these are sometimes referred to as case management (CM) dates. At this point, your attorney should have received discovery and an initial offer from the State. If you choose to take the offer from the State, then you may plea at this time. Many times, an attorney will request a continuance for another PTC/CM in order have more time to receive more discovery, take depositions, or file motions. If all discovery is done and there are no motions to be heard, you and your attorney will choose a trial date from the PTC/CM. Unlike arraignment, you may be required to attend the PTC/CM dates, especially in felony court. Many misdemeanor courts will allow you to skip PTC's if you and your attorney sign and file a waiver of appearance.

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