Orlando Legal Frequently Asked Questions
Orlando lawyer N. Fleetwood Tilden, founder of Tilden Law, is frequently asked questions regarding criminal law and criminal defense. We are happy to offer a free criminal case evaluation and answer your questions directly when you contact our offices, but we have also included some frequently asked questions below, for your convenience.
What should I do if I’m arrested in Central Florida?
An arrest occurs once your freedom to leave has been eliminated or you are placed into custody. If you’re arrested and accused of a crime, make sure you immediately request to speak with an attorney and respectfully decline to answer any questions from police. You are not required to sign any sworn statement and you should decline if you are asked to do so. Remember, anything you say can be used against you in court.
What happens to personal property when arrested?
After an arrest, law enforcement will inventory any property both on your person as well as property in your vehicle if the charge involved a criminal driving offense. All money and other property will be held in safekeeping at the arresting agency pending your release from custody or conclusion of your criminal case.
What if I am involved in an accident and being asked questions by police?
You should answer only questions for purposes of the accident investigation. Once the police have completed the accident report and read you your rights, respectfully decline to answer any further questions without a lawyer present.
What happens after I am booked into jail?
After being booked into jail, a bond amount is generally assigned for your release based on the bond schedule corresponding with the criminal charge. You will typically be seen by a neutral magistrate within 24 hours of being taken into custody. You will have the option of either bonding by you or a friend/family member paying the bond amount in cash (cash bond) or by contacting a bondsman (surety bond) to arrange for release. A cash bond is paid in full and is refunded after the case is concluded. A surety bond is posted by a bonding company with a 10% premium paid to the bondsman as a fee.
What are the next court dates and what do they mean?
The first required court appearance after release is the Arraignment. At the Arraignment, you will be required to enter a “plea.” There are three (3) plea choices: Guilty (an admission to the charge); No-Contest (neither an admission nor denial but will lead to a criminal sentence; or Not Guilty (a denial of the offense). By entering a plea of either Guilty or No Contest, the Judge will impose a sentence which may include a permanent criminal conviction. Tilden Law automatically enters a plea of Not Guilty on behalf of all clients. We waive the appearance of our clients at the Arraignment court date (client does not need to appear) and request all information relating to prosecution from the State Attorney’s office. This allows us to both evaluate the evidence against our clients and contact the prosecuting State Attorney to begin the negotiation process.
What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?
Florida statutes classify a felony crime as one that is punishable by imprisonment of more than one year. A misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by imprisonment of one year or less. A more detailed review of these offenses can be found on our Felony and Misdemeanor page.
What is restitution in the criminal context?
Restitution is a financial judgment that is payable by a defendant to a victim as a condition of a probation sentence. Restitution may include compensation for property damage or loss, medical and rehabilitation expenses, lost income or funeral expenses. Part of the philosophy behind criminal restitution is to give the criminal offender a direct part in making things whole with his or her victim.
Do I need a lawyer’s help if I am accused of a crime?
The function of a defense lawyer is to act as a buffer between the person accused of a crime and the Judge and Prosecutor. A skilled criminal defense attorney will obtain and review evidence, file pre-trial motions to reduce damaging evidence and negotiate a resolution with the State Attorney’s office. If avoiding a criminal conviction on your record or petitioning for a reduction or dismissal of criminal charges is important to you, contact Tilden Law for a free case evaluation.