There is a lot of terminology thrown around in the criminal justice system. For those facing criminal charges in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach, the lingo may no be familiar. Here is what each important term means and how it applies to your case.
A BOND HEARING is the hearing you may attend within 24 hours of your arrest. Many of you will post a bond prior to going to court, or if you are arrested for a misdemeanor, you may be issued a Promise To Appear (PTA) instead of actually being taken into custody. If you do not post a bond after arrest or if you are facing a serious felony or domestic violence charge, you will be brought before a judge within 24 hours of arrest where the terms of your pretrial release, if any, will be imposed. Most of you will be given a monetary bond, which means that after the bond amount is posted, you will be released.
Your ARRAIGNMENT is usually the next hearing that will come about 21-40 days after your arrest. At this hearing, the State Attorney will announce the charges, if any. The State Attorney's Office may file charges, reduce charges, ask the Court for more time, or announce that they are not filing any charges (called a "no action," "no info," or "no file").
If charges are filed, you may be noticed to appear for a SOUNDING or CALENDAR CALL. This is a hearing where each side - the State and the defense - will tell the Court if they are ready to proceed to trial. Attorneys may request continuances, or more time to prepare the case. At Soundings and Calendar Calls, cases can be resolved by plea if one has been negotiated. In Miami-Dade County, these hearings are called Soundings. In Broward County, the hearings are called Calendar Calls. In Palm Beach County, there is usually a hearing known as a Case Disposition, which is essentially the same thing - the Judge will ask each side if they are ready for trial, if there is a plea, or if they need more time.
TRIAL is when the case is scheduled to be heard by a judge or jury. Your case may be one of many set for trial, so there is no guarantee that your case will be selected as the trial case for the day, since there is only one trial heard in each division at a time. If your case is young and doesn't have priority status yet, your case may be reset for another trial day. On trial days, your case may be dismissed if the State Attorney is not ready to proceed. Your case may also resolve by way of a plea.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney serving Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach.