What happens when you get arrested? Say you commit a crime and, pretty soon, the red and blue lights are coming in through your windows and you know it’s time to give yourself up to law enforcement. What should you expect from the criminal case process? What do you need to know about the step-by-steps from arrests all the way through to appeals?

What Happens When I Am Initially Arrested?
gavelWhen the police show up at your door and make an arrest, something known as an ‘arrest report’ is made and forwarded to the prosecutor. This all happens before the arrest is actually made and anyone is charged with the crime. In the arrest report, you will find more about the events leading up to the arrest and the details of the arrest like dates, time, location, and witnesses. So what does the prosecutor do with the report? He or she can either file a complaint with the trial court and set forth charges, go to a grand jury and present all evidence, ask what criminal charges should be brought, or possibly just elect to not pursue the matter at all – the choice is up to them!

A prosecutor must also keep in mind that criminal charges must be filed quickly. They must generally file them within three or so days depending on the jurisdiction. The crime that a person might be charged with can be expected to change significantly over time.

Whether or Not to Prosecute?
Do you know the most important factors that a prosecutor must figure in before they come to a decision? Here are some of them:

  • A prosecutor may not decide to pursue a case strictly because of community outrage. A prosecutor might want to keep a certain image about themselves due to the fact that they often run for political standing.
  • Prosecutors may have to follow certain policies regarding what crimes they want to prosecute.
  • Prosecutors can also choose what they want to do based on their own personal beliefs of right or wrong. This could cause a prosecutor to pursue a case more aggressively or even not at all.

How Does a Grand Jury Work?
The grand jury, behind closed doors, will listen to what a prosecutor has to say. The prosecutor will give a “bill” of charges, present evidence, include what witnesses have to say, and work their way to giving an indictment. The grand jury can then choose whether or not to indict a defendant. If this is the case, a “true bill” comes forth. If they choose not to indict, a “no bill” comes forth. The prosecutor, regardless of the outcome, may return to the same grand jury and present further evidence, get a new grand jury to make a decision, or file criminal charges anyway.

What Should I Expect From the Preliminary Hearing?
A preliminary hearing will be held if the case is a felony and the prosecutor bypasses a grand jury. When this hearing takes place, the prosecutor will be entitled to demonstrate to the judge that the state has enough evidence to have a trial in the first place.

How Does Bail Work in the Event of an Arrest? What Important Information Must I Know?
If the authorities are confident that you will show up to court for all required hearings, then you will likely have a chance at something known as bail. Bail is an amount of money that is deposited with the court to ensure that you will show up, in which you can post in cash. When you pay the cash, you will be released from custody. If you don’t show up at the scheduled hearings as promised, you then forfeit your bail.

If you have been arrested and are curious about the process, speaking to a lawyer will answer all of your questions. Having a lawyer on your side will help you in the actual court process as well. This is why it is in your best interest to call the Blair Law Firm and speak to a lawyer that you can trust. Call today to find out more.