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Filing of Formal Felony Charges

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Unlike a misdemeanor charge, a felony information - also known as a formal charging document - must be filed by the State Attorney in order for you to be charged with a felony.

A misdemeanor does not require the filing of an information.  A misdemeanor may be charged by information, but can also be charged by an arrest affidavit, citation, or promise to appear (PTA).

Felonies are serious crimes.  All felonies are punishable by prison time.  Due to the serious nature of these offenses, prosecutors in Florida must evaluate cases as they come in from various police agencies in order to determine whether formal charges should be filed.

The arraignment, or court hearing where you are informed of the charges against you, is typically set 21 days after the arrest.  In those 21 days, the prosecutor will usually decide what charges, if any, to file.

They may file the same felony charges you were arrested for.  They may also file additional felony charges or even more serious felony charges.

The prosecutor may also reduce the felony charge to a misdemeanor charge.  This may happen in possession of marijuana cases, where the amount is questionable (remember, under 20 grams is misdemeanor possession, over 20 is a felony).

The prosecutor may also file no formal charges.  This is called a "no action" in Miami-Dade and a "no info" in Broward.

I recommend finding a criminal defense attorney as soon as you can and well in advance of your arraignment.  That's because the work a criminal defense lawyer does early on, prior to a filing decision being made, is crucial.  Many times, early intervention by a criminal attorney may have great influence over the prosecutor and the charges that he or she files (or doesn't file).

Attorney Eric Matheny can be reached by phone at (305) 777-3855.  He serves Miami-Dade and Broward in all criminal matters.