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The Difference Between Being Arrested vs. Charged in Florida

Orlando Defense Dec. 27, 2021

In some cases, you can face criminal charges without ever being arrested for a crime.

Alternatively, just because you were arrested, you might still be able to avoid criminal charges for the underlying offense.

This distinction often creates confusion for criminal defendants, especially for those without the experience of being arrested but not charged with a particular crime.

At Orlando Defense, we can help you understand the underlying reason you’re facing criminal charges, whether it stems from an arrest or a simple citation. 

Common Questions About Being Arrested Vs. Charged

Once someone realizes you can face charges without an arrest, they often have several questions. Some common questions we encounter are:

  • If the police let you go, can they charge you later?

  • Do you have to be arrested to be charged with a crime?

  • Can you be charged with a crime without knowing?

  • Can you be charged after being let go?

  • If I don’t get taken to jail, will my charges show up in a background check?

We want our clients to know that an arrest is not necessarily required before someone faces charges for a criminal violation. In many cases, a criminal violation results in a citation with a notice to appear in court on a certain date.

That means a person can be charged without ever being formally arrested and taken to jail. If that person or their attorney then fail to appear in court on the required date, the court can issue a warrant for the defendant’s arrest. 

When someone faces criminal charges, the state attorney is the entity that decides what charges to file and brings those charges to court.

Typically, law enforcement forwards their police report to the state attorney, who then reviews the report, examines other evidence, and determines whether to file criminal charges. Regardless of whether the defendant is in custody or out of custody at the time, the state attorney can elect to file the charges.

Thus, it doesn’t matter if the defendant was released from custody without ever going to jail, the state attorney can still choose to file charges in court.

Alternatively, just because someone is arrested by law enforcement doesn’t always mean the state attorney will file the associated criminal charges against them.

For example, the state attorney might decide to not file charges because they recognize errors made in the course of the arrest or doubt the reliability of the witnesses or the officer’s report.

Or the state attorney may conclude that there is not enough evidence to get a conviction of the crime the police suspected when they made the arrest.

In that case, the state attorney can refuse to file charges even though someone was arrested for the crime. Remember, the state attorney must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest burden of proof. If the case prepared by law enforcement is weak, the state attorney can always choose not to file the charges.

Because there are no certainties in any case – and being arrested does not mean charges will be filed any more than going to jail guarantees that charges will be filed – it is important to hire a criminal defense attorney to assist with a case as soon as possible. 

The team at Orlando Defense has faced that situation many times and very often has been able to get cases dismissed without the client ever having to get arrested or appear in court. 

Need To Know The Difference Between Arrested Vs. Charged? Contact A Florida Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Our team at Orlando Defense understands the stress and confusion of wondering whether you’ve been charged with a crime.

We can help you figure out whether your arrest will result in criminal charges or if you could face criminal charges without an arrest.

Call our office today to get started with your free consultation.