Downtown Tampa




Formal Charges and Arraignment


Formal Charges
Indictment and Information:

An Indictment is a written statement of charges declared after a grand jury (15-21 persons) has heard evidence presented by a prosecutor that the grand jury believes is sufficient for a suspect to be formally charged with a criminal offense. An Information is a written statement of charges filed by an assistant state attorney.


With exceptions for minor cases, an accused can only be convicted of a crime if he or she has been formally and properly charged by an Indictment or an Information. For an offense that may be punished by death, an accused must be charged by Indictment. All other offenses may be prosecuted by an Indictment or Information.

Adversary Preliminary Hearing:

An accused who is not charged in an Information or Indictment within 21 days from the date of arrest, or service of a capias on him or her, shall have a right to an Adversary Preliminary Hearing on any felony charge then pending against the accused. If the court determines that there was no probable cause to believe that an offense was committed and that the accused committed the offense, the judge is required to release the accused from custody unless an Information or Indictment has been filed. If an Information or Indictment has been filed, the accused will be released on recognizance subject to the condition that he or she appears at all court proceedings.

Time for Filing Formal Charges:

The government is required to file formal charges against an accused in custody within 30 days from the date on which the accused was arrested or from the date of service of a capias upon him or her. If this is not done, he or she must be released on his or her own recognizance. The rule has provisions that can extend the time to 40 days, but in no event may any accused remain in custody beyond 40 days unless they have been formally charged.


An arraignment is the proceeding wherein the accused is formally read the charges filed against him or her. In response, the accused will enter a plea of not guilty, guilty, or with the consent of the court, enter a plea of nolo contendere (“no contest”). An accused may waive the reading of the charges at the arraignment hearing. If the accused is represented by an attorney, counsel may file a written plea of not guilty at or before the arraignment. The filing has the effect of entering a “not guilty” plea in the absence of the accused and the absence of the attorney. A plea of guilty or nolo contendere will result in a sentence being imposed by the judge.  A plea of not guilty may result in the court setting a trial date. The court may set other court dates prior to setting a trial date. These dates may be referred to as a Pretrial Conference, Disposition, Calendar Call, Status Date, Docket Sounding, etc. The dates are set to ensure that the case is progressing.  The prosecutor and/or the defense attorney may request court dates for motions or any other issues that need to be addressed before the trial date.