While most people never expect to be charged with a crime, circumstances may arise that require criminal defense attorney representation. It’s best to prepare in advance. If you are knowledgeable about the events beforehand, the process can go easier and may be less intimidating. Proceedings will usually happen in a predetermined manner no matter what type of crime you are charged with. First, a warrant will be issued for your arrest. If a warrant is issued against you, you will usually be notified of the warrant by being served. Being served means a police officer will deliver your warrant papers in person.
Once arrested, you will be taken to a police station to be booked which means you will be fingerprinted and a file will be opened regarding your case. After booking, you will spend a short amount of time in jail while you await your initial hearing and arrange payment for bail. While in jail, you will be allowed to contact an attorney. Any person charged with a crime has the right to legal representation. It’s very important that you at meet with your attorney before your initial hearing. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court must appoint an attorney for you.
The initial hearing is where you will be asked to make a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest. Your attorney will advise you which plea is best for you and your situation. If you plead not guilty, you will be given a trial date. It’s the responsibility of the prosecution to prove your guilt. To plead guilty or no contest means you will not be given a trial, and you will go straight to a sentencing hearing. If you are proven not guilty at your trial, you are released from custody. If you are found guilty, you will be given a sentencing hearing.
The sentencing hearing allows all parties involved in your case to express the facts involving your case that may affect your sentence. These parties could include the accuser, yourself or persons who are defending your case.
After the sentencing hearing the judge will consider all the evidence presented and then make a decision regarding your sentencing. Your sentencing could include additional jail time. It could also include a monetary fine. The judge could sentence you to community service or mandatory treatment programs all depending on the severity of your crime. The evidence against you and your initial plea, along the degree of sentencing could vary greatly. For smaller crimes, sentencing may only be a small fine and no jail time.