In Okaloosa and Walton Counties, sometimes the police will arrest the individual on the spot, and sometimes they will issue a Notice to Appear or Criminal Summons for that person to be present for a specified court date in which they will have to answer for the charges.
This court date is also called an arraignment (in Okaloosa County, it is called “plea day”). On the arraignment date, you are able to enter a plea of guilty, no contest, or not guilty.
If you decide to plead guilty or no contest, you will be sentenced immediately by the Judge.
Entering a “straight up” or open plea at any stage of a criminal proceeding is very risky and almost always a bad idea. Entering an open plea to a criminal case at arraignment stage is something that is generally not recommended either because in at that point in time, you do not have any information about your case, no discovery, no evidence, no statements.
Even if you have a defense to your case that would result in getting the charges thrown out and your case dismissed, you are effectively waiving that right by entering a plea. Better to plead not guilty and consult with an attorney before you make any decisions. It is your right to be defended by an attorney in your criminal case, so no reason to go it alone!
If you are able to obtain a private criminal attorney prior to the arraignment, they can file a “Written Plea of Not Guilty” of your behalf and you can even forgo attending the initial court date.
If you or a family member has been arrested in Okaloosa County or Walton County and have an upcoming arraignment or Plea Day, contact me in advance at (850) 362-6655 for a FREE consultation.