Arraignment in Pinellas County
After the arrest for a felony or misdemeanor in Pinellas County, FL, a prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office in Clearwater, FL, takes twenty-one (21) days to decide whether to proceed with the prosecution. During that time, the prosecutor can file more serious charges, less serious charges, or no charges.
If the prosecutor formally files any charge, then you will receive notice from the clerk’s office about the arraignment hearing. For misdemeanor traffic case, the uniform traffic citation acts as the charging document.
The notice of the arraignment will tell you the charge or charges pending against you, the case number, and the division in which the case is assigned. If you know the division in which the case is assigned, then you can determine which judge in Pinellas County will preside over the case.
The notice will tell you to report for the arraignment to a specific courtroom at the Pinellas County Justice Center located at 14250 49th Street North in Clearwater, Florida 33762, on a specific date and time.
What happens at the arraignment hearing in Pinellas County, FL. At the arraignment, the court will to the following:
- advise you of the charge pending against you;
- ask you whether you want to represent yourself, ask for a public defender to be appointed to represent you, or hire a private attorney at your own expense; and
- if you choose to represent yourself, allow you to enter a “guilty” or “no contest” plea.
Attorney for Arraignment Hearings in Clearwater, FL
If you plan on retaining a private attorney to represent you on the case, you should hire the attorney prior to arraignment. Before the arraignment, your attorney can file the initial pleadings and preserve any objection to the legal sufficiency of the charging document.
The notice of arraignment tells you that if you are represented by an attorney, you should contact your attorney regarding the notice.
If you hire a private attorney before the arraignment, then the attorney will typically file all of the initial pleadings including a written plea of not guilty. A private attorney can also waive your appearance at the arraignment so that you do not have to appear.
If your private attorney doesn’t waive your appearance, then you must appear. If you fail to appear as required by the court notice and are not currently in custody, then the court will issue a warrant for your arrest, and your Release-On-Recognizance (ROR) will be revoked or your surety or cash bond will be estreated.
Don’t face the judge alone. For a felony or misdemeanor case, contact an attorney at Sammis Law Firm about representing you at an upcoming arraignment hearing.
This article was last updated on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.