Whether you have a close relative in trouble with the law or are facing charges yourself, you’re probably wondering, “What happens next?” After all, knowing what to expect can help you cope and come up with a plan.
While not every case is totally straightforward, here is what you can generally expect:
- The arrest: Some defendants are arrested when the police have “probable cause” to believe they’ve committed a crime. Others may be tracked down after a warrant for their arrest is issued following an investigation.
- The first advisement: This is usually the first time the defendant appears before a judge. The judge will explain what the defendant is suspected of doing, find out if the defendant has a defense attorney, explain the defendant’s rights (including the right to have a defense attorney provided) and set the defendant’s bond, if applicable.
- The second advisement: After criminal charges have been filed, the judge will explain the charges to the defendant. At this point, the judge may entertain arguments about why the defendant’s bond should be raised or lowered.
- The preliminary hearings and discovery: Sometimes a preliminary hearing is held so that the prosecution can address the charges and show that they have enough evidence to proceed. There may also be several additional hearings that involve the sharing of information between the defense and the prosecution. The defense and prosecution may also argue about what evidence should be permitted in court, make challenges to the way the investigation was handled and address procedural problems.
Unless the case is dismissed prior to this point, the defendant may then accept a plea or go to trial.
You never want to go through the criminal justice process without an experienced defense attorney by your side. If you’re facing charges, find out how to best protect your rights and your future.