Criminal Law Process
In any criminal case, the very first decision that must be made is who to hire as your attorney, even before arranging bail. Although it is uncommon that my recommendation is to allow an accused to remain in confinement, it can happen and should be left as a consideration to your love one. Once bail is set, and regardless if bail is made, in the initial stage of a criminal case family and friends feel a sense of relief and often times believe that it is time to breath east. Don not think that time is necessarily on your side. Both misdemeanors and felonies have the potential for jail time and/or probation and evidence may be spoiling, memories may be fading, time is most certainly wasting. Misdemeanors are generally regarded as less serious crimes, but nevertheless require an aggressive defense as they carry a potential jail sentence of up to 1 year in county jail. Felonies are the most serious category of crimes for which carries a potential county jail or state prison sentence.
The role of the Criminal Defense Attorney is to WIN. In some cases it is necessary to obtain hard drives from computers, order a polygraph exam, hire a private investigator to do work that the Police should have done, hire a psychologist, inpatient, counseling, anger management, druge treatment, and the list goes on and on. If your attorney does not have experts for whom they can refer to you in these general categories, you may not be on a winning team. Not all cases involve the same degree of aggressiveness at the same phase in the criminal process. You need an attorney who knows what to do, with whom, and when. The typical criminal process will follow as such…
Investigation/Grand Jury – The first thing to happen is usually a call to the police which leads to an investigation by responding officers, or in some cases, a grand jury investigation. You need an attorney before you case reaches the DA’s office. We have been successful in avoiding prosecution in total by providing our evidence to the DA’s office before the case was filed and showing them right off the bat the problems with their case. If you waste this opportunity, you have lost one bite at the apple before you ever leave the starting gate.
Arrest/Citation/Indictment – Once the investigators think they have enough evidence to file criminal charges, you will be arrested and taken into custody, or will be provided with a citation or letter to appear in court on a specific date. The police may arrest you for what they think the charges support, but the prosecuting agencies (City Attorney or District Attorney) make the ultimate decision of what you could be facing in court.
Arraignment – Your first appearance in court involves you entering a plea, either “not guilty”, “guilty”, or “no contest” to the charges you are formally facing.
Announcement Settings – These are additional dates to return to court to discuss various issues and for possible settlement. You are customarily given two announcement settings before you are required to announce a plea or a trial. In misdemeanor cases most courts will accept a “waive of appearance” in lieu of your formal appearance at these settings.
Trial – Some courts will set the case for a “trial announcement.” This is a docket whereby the trial docket for the upcoming week or two is called and the first case on the docket that announces ready will be the set trial and all others will be reset for another trial announcement until such time as you are the first ready. Other courts will do the trial announcement the morning of the trial and the first to announce will go that day and all others reset.
Plea Setting – After a settlement or a guilty verdict, the defendant is sentenced. Misdemeanors carry up to one year in jail, while felonies carry the potential for custody greater than one year. However, a court can also sentence the defendant to probation, which is less than the prescribed jail time maximums or guidelines.
Appeals/Expunctions – A defendant always has the right to appeal a case or ruling, and in some instances, to request that the court “expunge” or remove the conviction from the person’s record.
To learn more about your rights and how to proceed with your case, please contact Alexander & Associates. We will explain the penalties you are facing and how to best proceed. There is no fee for an initial consultation.