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The Criminal Process

Sarasota Criminal Lawyers Defending The Rights of the Accused

We often find ourselves representing those who have been accused of a crime for the first time. People who have never been arrested or even taken part at all in the criminal justice system. These clients are often shocked at the complexity and ineptitude of the system as a whole, and often have many questions about the workings of the machine. Even clients who have been through the system can still be surprised by it because many lawyers do not take the requisite time to fully explain the process and the proceedings to their clients. We at Hanlon Law take pride in the level of service and communication provided to our clients that is reflected in the informed and thoughtful decisions that those clients are able to make about their cases.

For those who might not have the opportunity to ask specifically about their case, or for those who are looking for an overview of the criminal justice process, this article is meant for you. The criminal process, from beginning to end, is designed to be complicated and foreign to the uninitiated. Terms and phrases are used commonly in the court system that have no meaning or relevance outside of it. Court hearings are commonly held, striking fear in the hearts of defendants, when in reality the hearings are often meaningless. Though this article is meant to give an overview of the criminal process, there is no replacement to hiring an experienced and skilled Sarasota criminal defense lawyer to guide you through the process.

The Arrest

The vast majority of criminal proceedings begin with an arrest. If police are alerted to the commission of a crime, they will first do an investigation to determine whether or not probable cause exists that a crime was committed. If they believe that there is probable cause, the police will make an arrest. In Florida, police can also choose to issue a notice of appearance for minor misdemeanor offenses, but are required to arrest defendants charged with felonies. Once brought to the jail, you will most likely have the opportunity to post a monetary bond to secure your release. In some circumstances, you may not be able to bond out. Your bond may simply be too expensive, you may be charged with an offense punishable by life, or you may be charged with a domestic violence offense, which prohibits bond until you appear before a judge.


After your arrest, the State Attorney’s office will begin processing your case. They may conduct an investigation on their own and contact witnesses and will eventually decide whether or not to formally charge the arrestee with a crime At this stage, the prosecutor assigned to your case can be contacted by your lawyer who can make legal arguments and who can sometimes convince them to reduce the charges or sometimes drop them altogether. Many people choose to wait until they get a court date to retain a lawyer, but hiring a skilled Sarasota criminal defense lawyer while the state is investigating the charges can often make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.


Criminal cases can be resolved in a myriad of ways. If evidence is presented to the state that shows you are innocent of the crime or that they lack sufficient evidence to prove you guilty, the state will sometimes voluntarily dismiss your case. If they believe there is enough evidence, you can either enter into a plea agreement or proceed to a trial in order to argue your case before a judge or jury. Especially for first offenders, drug offenders, and veterans, diversion programs may also be available. A dedicated Sarasota criminal defense lawyer will aid you in making the best possible decision to resolve your case.

Speak to Our Lawyers

The attorneys at Hanlon Law are always available to discuss the specifics of your case proceedings. Call us today for a consultation at 941.462.1789.

Client Reviews
As a practicing attorney, I was shocked to hear that a family member of mine was alleged to have committed a sex crime. Knowing full well the consequences this type of allegation can have on anyone and their future, I immediately reached out to William Hanlon for help... Jerry
Was on the ball. Remembered names, events, places, situations. Never need to re explain the situation. Keeps in touch through out the entire experience and keeps you feeling safe, comforted and protected. Fights hard. Worth every single penny. Would never settle for anything less than Will. Carrie
I was facing a charge that if convicted would carry two years in prison minimally. Not only was he empathetic and listening to what I had to say but he arranged with the prosecutor for my charges not to be filed under terms of a pre trial investigation. Would highly recommend. Alec
I am very happy for what he did for me. Always there when I needed him. Explained everything well. He Fights for his clients. He got me what I needed. Hes an excellent lawyer. Mutaz
Mr. Hanlon did what no other lawyer could do. Not only did he turn my criminal history into a thing of the past so I could move on, he was a loyal associate. No matter how bad the situation is, he has miraculously cleared me on every charge since he became my lawyer 5 years ago. I have the best lawyer that the legal system has to offer. I have had other really good lawyers try to get my business, but I know that no one can do a better job than William Hanlon. Jesse