With misdemeanor offenses, police officers have the option of issuing a notice to appear, for example for a misdemeanor possession of marijuana case. In cases involving a felony, an individual should expect to be physically arrested, taken into custody, booked into the local and county jail, and put in a position whereby they would have to post bail or bond. You may be wondering what to expect following a Ft. Lauderdale drug arrest and a qualified drug lawyer can set realistic expectations for you. Your attorney can also look at the existing evidence and use it to build a solid case for you.
Where Do Ft. Lauderdale Drug Cases Go?
Something an individual can expect following a Ft. Lauderdale drug arrest, is that their case will be forwarded to the Broward County state attorney’s office for potential prosecution. Any evidence that was taken by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department would be sent to the Broward sheriff’s office crime lab for testing to determine if the substance is what it was reported to be.
For example, at the scene of the arrest, a law enforcement officer would conduct a field test to determine the nature of the substance involved. Before the state attorney’s office would file a charge, the substance would undergo more stringent testing by way of the Broward sheriff’s office crime lab.
The substance would be sent to the lab for testing and the case filing would be sent to the state attorney at the Broward County state attorney’s office who would review any and all evidence presented by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department to determine if any charges should be filed.
A Prosecutor’s Role in Drug Cases
The prosecutor has many options on how to proceed. They could file the case exactly as was presented by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department or they could increase the severity of the charge. For example, they could evaluate a case that was a simple possession of a controlled substance and decide that a more serious charge is warranted, like possession with the intent to deliver or distribute.
On the other end of the spectrum, they could review a simple possession case and determine that the evidence is not sufficient to go forward and withstand the likelihood of a conviction moving forward on the case, utilizing a higher standard of a proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Some of the issues that could come up are perhaps insufficient evidence of possession in a drug-related case, issues surrounding the traffic stop, or issues at that stage involving unlawful searches or seizures.
If charges are filed post-arrest, an individual would be notified that their case is scheduled for an arraignment, which is a hearing before the judge in Broward County to have the formal charges that were filed by the state attorney’s office read or announced to the individual. The individual would have the opportunity to enter a response or plea to the charge or charges that were filed. The options would be guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
Ft. Lauderdale Drug Arraignments
Most people would enter a plea of not guilty at the arraignment. At the arraignment, the Court deals with issues surrounding representation. If an individual has secured counsel, then that puts that issue to bed and it is not addressed at the arraignment. Those who do not have counsel might be given more time to secure counsel. The court will give them an opportunity to secure counsel and most likely reset the arraignment.
After the arraignment has taken place, the plea of not guilty would be entered, discovery rights would be invoked, the prosecutor and the state attorney’s office would turn over all their evidence, and the discovery phase of the case would start. Depositions might take place. Pre-trial motions investigation, defense witnesses, and any evidence or circumstances that would be helpful in either a defense or to mitigate the actual allegations or charges would be presented to the prosecutor in the hopes of making the charges go away, getting them dismissed before negotiating and securing a reasonable resolution. If those are not possible, then they prepare for a trial in the hopes of the not guilty verdict before a jury.
One thing that individuals can expect following a Ft. Lauderdale drug arrest is to post bond after their arraignment. The next step would be securing their release by way of posting either a cash bond or engaging the services of a bondsman who would charge a fee to put up their money. Usually, 10 percent of the bond would be the bail bondsman’s fee. They would put up their money and require collateral to cover their funds and their money through property, usually real estate, or a hold on a credit card to ensure that their money is safe and deposited with the jail to ensure that an individual shows up to court when they are supposed to.
Assuming they do, at the conclusion of the case, the money is returned to the depositor if the person posts their own bond. Then that money would be returned to them short of any money owed to the court. If the case gets dismissed or if a person is found not guilty, the money would be returned to them.
Working With a Bondsman
One thing that individuals might not expect following a Ft. Lauderdale drug arrest is the necessity of a bondsman. If an individual utilizes the services of a bondsman and the case has been concluded, the bondsman would get back their money. Basically, the bondsman would release any hold they have, including any assets or collateral being held by the bondsman, and that would free up any liens against property or any credit card holds. Next steps would be for anybody who goes to jail to try to get out. Getting out would be to have the bond that has been posted as soon as possible.
If a bond has not been set, try to have a hearing in front of a judge as soon as possible to have a reasonable bond set. If the bond is unreasonably high, the same procedure would be utilized to try to get the individual in front of the judge on a motion for a bond reduction to have the bond lowered, making it easier for the individual to be released from custody and get out of jail.