Get to Know the Broward County Criminal Court House Layout
You may be overwhelmed and confused about your rights if you were arrested on criminal charges in Florida. The laws and procedural rules are complex, and even the organization of the Broward County criminal system is quite complicated. You can trust your knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to guide you through the process and the geographic layout, and an overview may also be useful.
Criminal Court Divisions
Criminal cases proceed in different divisions depending on the nature of the charges. All felony court cases are filed in the Circuit Criminal Division, which is in the East Building of the Central Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale. Traffic citations, misdemeanor cases, and violations of municipal ordinances are handled in the County Criminal Division. These matters proceed at different courthouses throughout Broward County.
Overview of the Courtroom
Once you are inside, you can become familiar with the layout of the courtroom according to the following spaces:
Gallery: This is the viewing area of the courtroom, where spectators have access to any proceedings which are open to the public. Family members, victims, and others may be in attendance. In addition, members of the media may be present in high profile cases. If you are out on bail and your case is one of a number that will go before the judge during the session, you may also be sitting in the gallery until your case is called by the bailiff.
- Counsel Tables: Both the prosecutor and defense attorneys will have tables as a type of staging area when presenting your case. They leave the table to stand before the judge when formally addressing the court, but can use it to keep documents and evidence handy.
- Bench: This is the raised platform with a desk, where the judge presides over the proceedings in the courtroom while court is in session. The prosecutor, defense lawyer, defendants, and others must ask permission to approach. There may be a court reporter near the bench to records the proceedings.
- Jury Box: If your case is being tried before a jury, the members will sit in a sectioned-off space called the jury box. During pretrial conferences and other hearings before the full trial, the jury box is likely to be empty.
- Chambers: This is a separate area adjacent to the courtroom, where the judge maintains his or her office space. In some situations, the prosecutor and defense attorney will request a meeting in chambers to have conversations on matters that are not appropriate for the jury to hear.
An Experienced Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Guide You
Criminal defense attorneys who have spent a lot of time in Broward County Courts can help you navigate the courthouse and individual courtrooms. Your lawyer is also a valuable asset when it comes to defending your interests and fighting against the charges in a Florida criminal case. If you were arrested for any type of crime, please contact attorney Kevin J. Kulik to learn more about our criminal defense legal services. Our team can schedule a consultation at our Fort Lauderdale office right away.