Christian Dewet Viljoen was in Judge John Brown’s courtroom again today for what was supposed to be his pre-trial conference.
Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Deputies charged Viljoen with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon after an incident took place at the end of May. You can read the redacted affadavit below.
Viljoen’s Public Defender entered a not guilty plea on his behalf on July 14th.
According to court records, the judge granted a continuance for the trial – which means his next appearance in court will take place on November 14th, 2022, at nine in the morning.
According to Meltzer and Bell, the average trial in the state of Florida takes somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 days. If that were to hold true in this trial, we would have a verdict by November 23rd of 2022.
Judge Brown noted that there is a backlog in the court system due to COVID-19. There was even one case from 2017 which reached the judge Monday morning while I was waiting for the Viljoen hearing.
Florida Political Review notes that the backlog is statewide.
So, in a criminal trial like this one – we are at about step four of seven. While we are a little over halfway, in theory, the court may still have plenty of heavy lifting to do before the trial ends. Here are the seven general steps in a felony case.
You guessed it – for there to be a criminal trial, there needs to be an arrest. I could go more into this, but y’all know the ins and outs.
After an arrest for allegedly committing a crime, a suspect in a case is told their rights, the charges against them and legal representation is sorted out in the presence of a judge. Additionally, bail is set if it is necessary or possible.
The arraignment portion of the process is the first formal court appearance a defendant makes in the legal process. It takes place less than 20 days after the initial appearance.
In Florida, the arraignment doesn’t have to take place in person – defendants’ attorneys can file paperwork on their behalf and they can skip it.
Ultimately, the arraignment portion of the process accomplishes three tasks. It requires the judge to confirm that the right person gets charged in the matter. It ensures that the accused knows they have been charged with a crime. And, finally, it gives the defendant a chance to put in a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest.
After arraignment comes the formal charges portion of the legal process. The State Attorney files a list of charges. After that, a process called Discovery takes place. This is where the prosecution (the government attorneys in charge of making a case on behalf of the government and potential victims) and the defense share with each other all of the evidence they have in the case and plan to use to make their arguments.
This is the part where the case involving Christian Viljoen is now. The Pre-trial proceeding will take place on the 14th of November.
This is where the attorneys in the case will have their initial battle in the court. They will discuss their case in front of the judge. Next, witnesses and potential victims will receive subpoenas, a formal requirement that they appear in court, and the crime-drama television events that we all know will play out.
This is the portion of the case that everyone is familiar with from legal shows like Law & Order or Suits, everyone gets in the courtroom together and witnesses and suspects are cross examined, evidence is brought up and arguments are made in front of a jury.
It’s at this point that guilt is determined. If the person is found to be not guilty of a crime, then the procedure ends and everyone goes home.
If the defendant in the case gets found guilty by a jury of his or her peers, the court then moves to the sentencing phase of the legal process.