In any criminal case, the very first step is to arrange bail and release for the person accused of a crime. During the initial stage of a criminal case, family and friends are upset and scared about what will happen to their loved ones. After the accused is released on bail everybody usually feels a sense of relief that this stage is over. At this point, it is absolutely imperative that you contact a qualified criminal defense attorney to represent your case. Both misdemeanors and felonies have the potential for jail time and probation. 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 that which carry a potential county jail or state prison sentence.
The role of the Criminal Defense Attorney is to gather evidence, speak to witnesses and investigate the facts of the case. With this knowledge we can help successfully defend your rights and in many cases have the charges dismissed. If the charges cannot be dismissed, or an acceptable agreement cannot be reached between the accused and the prosecutors, the case will proceed to trial.
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.
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. Bail will often be a discussion at this initial appearance, as will other motions described below in “Defense Rights”.
Pretrial/Preliminary Hearing – In misdemeanor cases, pretrial hearings are then set. These are dates to come back to court for various issues, described below in “Defense Rights”, and for possible settlement. After the pretrial hearings, if the case is not settled or dismissed, the next court proceeding would be a trial. There are no preliminary hearings for misdemeanor charges. In felony cases, a preliminary hearing will be set. This is a hearing where the Judge listens to basic evidence of the case from the prosecution, and determines whether or not the case should still be in the court system. This is usually the first opportunity for the defense to cross examine the prosecution witnesses, which is why it should be handled by skilled attorneys who understand the entire process. This hearing can have a major effect on the case weeks or even months later.
Felony Arraignment – In felony cases, if the Judge decides there is enough evidence to keep the case in the system, you will be arraigned in the trial court approximately two weeks after the preliminary hearing. This is another appearance whereby you will enter a “not guilty”, “guilty”, or “no contest” plea.
Pretrial – These are additional dates to return to court to discuss various issues and for possible settlement.
Trial – In misdemeanor cases, you have a right to go to trial within 30 or 45 days of your initial arraignment, depending on if you were in custody at your initial arraignment. This can be a jury trial or a court trial if both sides agree to waive their right to a jury trial. In felony cases, you have a right to go to trial within 60 days of your second arraignment, again being either a jury or court trial.
Probation and Sentencing – 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 The Law Offices of Matthew Arnold. Mr. Arnold will explain the penalties you are facing and how to best proceed. There is no fee for an initial consultation
Dallas Criminal Lawyer Disclaimer: The criminal defense, felonies, misdemeanors, DUI / DWI, murder, weapons charges, family violence, juvenile crime, bond hearings, obstruction of justice, drug charges, sex crimes, white collar crimes, grand jury representation, and theft crime information and any other information on this website should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship.