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Frequently Asked Questions

What should I expect from the system?

The criminal justice process starts with a crime. There are four basic ways a case proceeds:

  1. A person may be arrested at the time of the crime. Law enforcement completes an arrest document stating the charges against the accused.
  2. If no arrest is made at the time of the crime, law enforcement presents a sworn complaint to the State Attorney. The State Attorney determines whether there is probable cause to believe that a crime was committed and that the suspect may have committed the crime. The State Attorney may file an Information with the Clerk of the Court charging the suspect with the criminal offense. If an Information is filed, the Judge through the Clerk of the Court, may issue a capias.
  3. Based upon the investigation, an affidavit of probable cause is presented to the Judge by the State Attorney. If probable cause is found, the Judge may issue an arrest warrant. Both the capias and the arrest warrant directs Law Enforcement to arrest the person believed to have committed the crime.
  4. The accused may be arrested based upon the Investigation and an indictment returned by the grand jury.

What does the system expect from me?

As the victim or witness, your role is critical. You may have seen, heard, know or experienced something that is important to the investigation of this case. You may be interviewed by law enforcement to identify the assailant if recognized, to help in finding the crime scene, to identify stolen property, etc. Please keep our agency advised where you are living and your telephone number (work and home).


How long until an arrest is made?

As a victim you have a right to be notified of an arrest. Each case will proceed differently. The Law Enforcement Agency making the arrest attempts to notify you of the arrest. Interviewing witnesses and the collection of evidence can be a timely process. There is no set time frame. If you would like information about your case please call a Victim Advocate at 367-4199 OR call 352-367-4000. Please give the defendant's name and the case number when you call.


What is a first appearance hearing?

In more violent crimes or if the defendant cannot post bond, within hours of the arrest, the Court holds a "First Appearance" hearing. The Judge decides whether the defendant can be released based on the nature of the offense, evidence, defendant's employment status, mental condition, ties to the community, and previous convictions and if so, what conditions are necessary to protect the victim/witness.

Bail may be set when the arrest is made on probable cause by law enforcement. There are times when the defendant is released on his/her own recognizance (signature bond). The Judge can include special conditions ordering the defendant to have "no contact" with the victim and/or witness. You may attend the First Appearance hearing at 9:00 a.m. the morning following the arrest at the Alachua County Criminal Courthouse, 220 S. Main Street, Gainesville, Florida.


What is bail or bond?

Bail or bond is an amount of money or property posted by the defendant for his/her release to ensure the defendant appears in court. The judge sets the amount of bail at the time that the arrest warrant or arrest capias is issued. The Court considers: the nature of offense, evidence, defendant's employment status, mental condition, ties to the community, and convictions before setting bail. In less violent crimes, the defendant may be allowed to post bond and be released immediately.


Will I be notified of the release of the accused?

If the defendant is able to post bond he/she may be released pending trial. You, as a victim, have a right to be advised of the release of the defendant. The jail will attempt to contact you by phone or letter or you may call the jail at 352-491-4444.

You may also contact 1-877-846-3455 or go to VINE for more information.


What if my case involves a juvenile?

A juvenile (under 18 years of age) who is accused of a crime and arrested or charged with a misdemeanor or non-violent felony, may be immediately released to the custody of his/her parents or guardian. Juveniles who are not released will go to a detention hearing within 24 hours to determine the conditions of release. If you wish, you may attend the detention hearing at 9:00 a.m. the morning following the arrest at the Alachua County Courthouse, 201 E. University Avenue, Gainesville, Florida.


What happens next?

Since each case is unique, it may be at different stages in the criminal justice system. You can get a case update by calling the Victim Advocate Unit at 352-367-4199 during regular business hours Monday through Friday -8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.


How do I get a copy of my report?

Due to the confidential nature of the incident report, there may only be portions of the report that are available to the public. You can request a copy of the public records portion of the report through the Records Bureau of the Alachua County Sheriff's Office at 352-367-4006.


What is a victim impact statement?

The victim of a crime has a right to submit an oral or written impact statement to the judge, prior to the sentencing of the offender. Due to many cases being resolved by a plea agreement, the Victim Impact Statement may be the only opportunity to express to the judge how the crime has affected you. Only you, the victim know how to best describe the impact the crime has had on you and those close to you.

For more information contact the Alachua County Sheriff's Office Public Information Office, (352) 367-4050 or send us an email.

Under Florida law, email addresses are public records. If you do not want your email address released in response to a public-records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact this office by phone or in writing.

This information is made available to the public and law enforcement in the interest of public safety.