You’ve been arrested and unsure of what happens next. Here is a brief breakdown of the process and what you should expect. Remain respectful at all times and follow court orders. During this time you will communicate with your attorney often and assist with your defense.
- First Appearance: You have the right to appear before a judge within 24 hours of your arrest. Here, you are told what charges the police have alleged. The judge will determine if there is probable cause for your arrest. Do not talk about the case. It is not time to hear your side of the story. Your only role is to listen and then call your attorney. This hearing is recorded. The judge will set a bond for you at this hearing and any conditions for your release. If it’s more than you can afford your attorney can request a hearing and ask that the amount be lower.
- Arraignment: Here you are either read the information or read the charges. You will be talking at this hearing but very limited. You will first plead not guilty, guilty or no contest. If you are unsure about anything it is best to plead not guilty at this time. Next, you will need to tell the court what you would like to do about an attorney. You can either request a public defender or represent yourself or hire a private attorney. You must financially qualify for a public defender. Be honest on your application, it can be used against you later. That’s all, there is nothing else you should be talking about at this hearing. This hearing is recorded, and any admissions or information can be used against you. The State may give an offer at this hearing but without having an attorney review your case you won’t be sure this is in your best interest.
- Bond hearing: If you couldn’t pay the bond amount you were given your attorney can file a motion for a bond hearing. At this hearing your attorney will ask you or family members questions under oath and argue to the court for your bond to be reduced so that you can go home.
- Pretrial Conferences/Case Management Conferences/Trial Conferences: There will be quite a few court appearances before your case actually goes to trial. You have the right to go to trial within 175 days from arrest for felonies or 90 days from arrest for misdemeanors. During this time your attorney should be reviewing evidence, talking to witnesses, strategizing defenses with you, appearing to court on your behalf and negotiating with the State.
- Depositions: If you have been charged with a felony, we have the right to take depositions in the case. With an experienced defense attorney depositions are a great way to lock witnesses’ testimony and uncovering defenses. Cases can be won after a thorough deposition.
- Trial: At trial a jury is selected after both sides talk to the jury panel. You will assist your attorney in choosing the jury. Next, both sides can give an opening argument. Then the State will have witnesses testify and present evidence. After, defense is given the opportunity to call witnesses or present evidence. Finally, both sides can give a closing argument. The jury then deliberates and comes back with a verdict. If the decision is guilty the Judge decides the sentence. If the decision is not guilty the case is over and you go home.
- Appeals/Expungement & Sealing: There are a few post-trial options which include having your case re-tried or removing the conviction from your record. You will have your attorney to assist with these options.