Being arrested is a daunting experience, especially if it’s your first time. Several apprehensions cross your mind regarding the next step. In this blog, we will guide you through the entire process to help you plan your actions accordingly.
After you are arrested, here’s what happens:
At this stage, law enforcement takes the person under arrest to a District Court commissioner. District Court commissioners perform required investigations to determine the probable cause.
Probable cause is a mandatory requirement by law enforcement to hold a person accountable for any unethical activity. If this requirement is met, the police can take the suspect under custody, conduct a search or receive a warrant.
In some circumstances, however, a person can also get arrested without a warrant. These circumstances are termed exigent circumstances. Under these circumstances, a responsible authority can take any relevant action to prevent significant harm, such as evidence destruction or the escape of the suspect.
Whatever the scenario, the first step of the investigation is determining the probable cause. Even if a person is arrested without any warrant, they will be shortly brought before a commissioner or a competent authority for prompt judicial determination of the probable cause.
Charges and Possible Penalties
After determining the probable cause, the commissioner informs the person under arrest about the charges against them. He will make sure that the suspect knows the reason for the arrest and is prepared for the possible penalties.
At this point, the commissioner will not ask the suspect to admit anything. Instead, if they have any confusion or difficulty understanding the legal intricacies, they can tell the commissioner, and the commissioner will provide them with all the details and explanations regarding the procedure.
Right to Counsel
As mentioned in The Sixth Amendment, every criminal defendant has the right to counsel, even if they cannot afford to pay for the attorney.
Therefore, shortly after the initial procedures, the suspect will be asked if they want to hire a lawyer to assist them in their defense. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, you can also request a court-appointed lawyer. If the suspect asks for this option, the commissioner will ask them to fill out a form and file a proper request. After the submission, it will be on the commissioner to decide whether you qualify to be represented by the Public Defender or not. This decision, however, depends significantly on certain factors such as your financial status, property and case priority, and severity.
Arraignment is a court proceeding in which the defendant is taken for the initial hearing and asked whether they want to plead guilty or not guilty.
At this time, the defendants receive more clarity about their case status and the charges against them, and the court decides whether they will be held in prison or released until the trial.
Pre-trial Conference and Trial
In the pre-trial conference, plea offers are discussed and all the concerned issues are addressed. After this step, the actual trial takes place.
If the defendant pleads guilty, they give up their right to remain silent and are sentenced. If someone pleads not guilty, they will be asked to opt for a court or jury trial. In either case, if the defendant is found guilty, the judge decides the penalty.
During all these stages, it is highly recommended to strictly follow all the rules and regulations. Any negligence to the law can work against you and worsen your case. If you abide by all the rules and regulations and follow the procedures, you can also appeal for a case reopening later if you’re sentenced after pretrial conference and trial.
Here we shared a quick overview of the conventional legal procedures after an arrest in the USA. If you want further assistance or looking to hire a lawyer, call us at 877-619-9112.
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Disclaimer: Information in this blog is provided for general informational purposes. It may not reflect current laws in your region or state. It isn’t intended to substitute legal counsel.