If arrested, you are detained by the police and you are not free to go. If the officer believes that it is appropriate, you may be restrained with handcuffs or zip ties and/or placed in a police vehicle or enclosed area.
Booking. After you are arrested, you will be brought to the police station to go through the booking process. You will be searched, finger-printed, photographed, and asked for identifying information. Property taken from you will be catalogued and stored.
Arraignment. Once you are charged criminally, you will make a Court appearance called an Arraignment. If you have been held in jail, this will usually occur within seventy-two (72) hours. If you are released or bound-out, you will be provided with your next court date and time.
At Arraignment, you will be asked to enter a plea to the crime(s) you are charged with. You may enter one of the following pleas for each charge:
· Guilty: This is an admission that you admit that the crime occurred as stated and you did commit it. There will be no trial if you plead guilty.
· Not Guilty: You deny the crime occurred as stated and/or that you did not commit it.
· Mute: You simply say nothing. The Court will enter “not guilty". This is usually the best course of action.
Release on Bail. In most cases, a bail will be set. This is an amount of money or property posted to ensure that you will appear in Court on your prescribed hearing/trial date.
After your Arraignment, the Court may set a Trial date or a Docket Call. A Docket Call is a court date on which you can advise the Court of the attorney that will be representing you at trial or you may request additional time to retain an attorney. The arresting officer and witnesses will likely not be in Court for a Docket Call. Your case will not be resolved at a Docket Call. The Judge will either set another Docket Call or set your case for Trial.
Trial. This is the date on which the witnesses will appear and the case will be resolved. It may be possible that an agreement can be reached with the prosecution and resolve the case. This is called a plea bargain. If no agreement can be reached, then the Court will proceed with the trial.
Your Rights During a Trial
You have a number of rights during your trial:
· Speedy Trial: A trial must be held within a reasonable time period after you are charged with a crime.
· Trial by Jury: You are entitled to a trial by jury if charged with a crime punishable by six (6) or more months of jail time. You may waive this right by requesting a bench trial. This is a trial in front of a judge only.
· Effective Assistance of Counsel: You have the right to an attorney, who must do a reasonably good job in defending you at trial.
· Right to Remain Silent: You are not required to testify at your trial.
· Right to Confront Witnesses: You or your attorney must be allowed to cross-examine any witnesses who testify against you
If you are convicted, or enter a plea bargain, the Court will sentence you. Possible punishments include:
· Fine(s): A financial punishment usually for less serious crimes or in addition to other sentence requirements.
· Jail or Prison Time: For more serious crimes (felonies) or as mandated by State law.
· Restitution: Financial compensation paid to the other party for damages or loss caused by a crime.
· Probation: You are kept out of jail for an established period of time as long as you comply with the terms of your particular probation. This can include paying on court costs and fines in a timely manner, community service, drug and alcohol assessment(s) and/or testing, checking in with your probation officer in-person, by phone, or mail, or any other requirements that the Court orders.
· Alternative Sentences: These can include stipulations like participating in a drug and alcohol assessment, rehabilitation, community service, or attending a Victims Panel.
· Death: Also referred to as Capital Punishment, the death penalty is reserved for sentencing in the most serious felony cases i.e. criminal homicide.
Appeals. After conviction and sentencing, you will have an opportunity to file an appeal. An appeal is not a retrial of the case. It is an examination of the trial record to ensure that proper procedure was followed by all parties in a fair manner. There are strict deadlines when filing an appeal. Discuss the reasons for, and the appropriateness of, an appeal with your attorney.
If you are facing criminal charges, feel that you may be investigated and charged, or if you have questions, please contact the office to schedule an appointment.