To understand the term “bound over”, you must first understand a little about the criminal justice system.
The Grand Jury System
In Florida, when someone is charged with a capital crime, they will need to appear before a grand jury before their case goes to trial. In a grand jury proceeding, a prosecutor will introduce witnesses, and present evidence against the defendant. The purpose of this is to convince the jury that there is probable cause to believe that:
- a crime was committed; and
- the defendant is the person who committed the crime.
If the prosecutor can show these two things, then the grand jury will issue an indictment, which means that the case will proceed to a trial court. If the grand jury is not convinced of the prosecutor’s argument, the case will be dismissed.
If you have been subpoenaed to a grand jury trial, you should get the professional help of a Miami criminal defense lawyer. A Miami criminal defense lawyer can also advise you on your rights during your grand jury trial, such as your right to refuse to testify based upon your fifth amendment privileges.
Being Bound Over
Again, when a grand jury hands down an indictment, it means that the court has found probable cause for the case to proceed to trial. The next step is for the defendant to be “bound over” to their trial in Circuit Court. This simply means that the case has proceeded to the next step of the criminal justice system.
Negotiating a Plea Bargain
Once someone is bound over to trial court, the process will be different than during the grand jury trial. However, before a trial, a Miami criminal defense lawyer may negotiate a plea bargain in some cases. In a plea bargain, the state attorney will offer a reduced punishment if the defendant agrees to plead guilty. If the defendant does not choose to accept a plea agreement, then the case will proceed to trial in a formal court of law.
In a criminal case, a Miami criminal defense attorney can advise their client on whether to accept a plea bargain (if one is offered), or whether to choose to go to trial.
Going to Trial
During a criminal trial, the state will present evidence to either a jury or a judge. To convict the defendant of a crime, the state must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. During the trial, a Miami criminal defense lawyer will attempt to prove the defendant’s innocence.
If the state cannot prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant will be found not guilty, and the case will come to an end. If the defendant is found guilty of a crime, a punishment will be imposed by the judge who presided over the trial.
Penalties for Conviction of a Capital Crime in Florida
Someone who is convicted of a capital crime in Florida may face life in prison or in some cases, the death penalty. Capital crimes include first-degree murder, felony murder, and capital drug trafficking. Someone who is convicted of a felony in Florida will face the following penalties:
- capital felony – life in prison without the possibility of parole, or execution;
- life felony – a fine of up to $15,000, and a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole;
- first-degree felony – a fine of up to $10,000, and a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison;
- second-degree felony – a fine of up to $10,000, and a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison; and
- third-degree felony – a fine of up to $5,000, and a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.
To learn more about how Florida’s criminal penalties may affect your specific criminal charges, it is best to speak with a Miami criminal defense lawyer.
Contacting a Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are facing criminal charges in South Florida, your legal team is your best defense. Contact the Miami criminal defense lawyer team at Falk & Ross to discuss your case – (877) 663-5110.