If you are arrested in Florida, do you have to have a trial?

If you are arrested in Florida, do you have to have a trial in order to resolve your case?  I am sometimes asked this question by clients who are understandably nervous about the prospect of having their case decided by a group of jurors who will be complete strangers to them.  My answer is typically no; a person who has been charged with committing a crime does not usually have to have a trial in order to resolve her case.    In the vast majority of cases that I handle, prosecutors make plea offers.  After speaking with my client, I will often present the prosecutor with a counter offer.  During the course of this ongoing give and take, an agreement is usually reached whereby the client resolves his case without having to go to trial. 

However, there are those rare cases where a prosecutor refuses to make any plea offer at all.  This is usually because of the serious nature of the charge--for example, murder or kidnapping.  In those cases, the client has to make a decision about whether he wants to have a trial or whether he wants to enter a plea "straight up" to the judge.  Either decision carries its own risks.

In other instances, the client adamantly maintains her innocence and demands a trial by judge or jury.  This decision is exclusively the client's but one which should be made only after carefully reviewing the prosecutor's evidence and any evidence which the client herself may wish to present at trial.

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