Seasoned Criminal Defense Attorney
There are a couple of urgent questions that almost anyone who is arrested and charged with a crime is going to have uppermost in their mind:
What happens next?
What am I going to do??
The second question should nearly always have the same answer:
Ask to speak with a lawyer.
With 40 years of trial experience, you should call one of the most experienced, trusted names in South Florida legal circles – Thomas & Pearl – and get a criminal defense attorney who will work with you on your case every step of the way – and the sooner the better. Remember that immediately upon arrest, it is your right to request legal counsel. This is your first and perhaps most important opportunity to protect yourself from self-incrimination, and to improve your chances for a better outcome moving forward.
So, back to the first question. Once you have legal representation, what about the process that then unfolds? What happens next?
UNDERSTANDING THE CRIMINAL TRIAL PROCESS
The Probable Cause and Bond Hearing
When someone is arrested and charged with a crime, the law provides that a person has the right to a hearing within 24 hours to determine whether probable cause existed for the police to make an arrest. This is the first stage of the criminal process and the reason it is so important to retain an outstanding lawyer from the very beginning.
In the first stage of the case, Magistrate Court, a judge will determine whether there is probable cause to keep you detained or to release you. If the judge does find probable cause, he or she will then set a bond amount. A bond is the amount of money that must be paid in order to be released from custody.
However, if someone has an outstanding warrant, or is arrested because of a violation of probation, or is wanted in another jurisdiction, a bond will not be issued. When setting a bond the magistrate judge takes several factors into consideration such as the nature of the charge(s), a person’s criminal history, ties to the community (such as residency and employment), whether the individual is a flight risk, or if upon release would be a danger to themselves or others.
Once the judge has set a bond for release, you may post the bond or retain the services of a bail bondsman to post it for you. You cannot be released from custody until the bond is paid or until any other set conditions for release are satisfied. There are many things a great attorney can do for you at the bond hearing, such as a bond reductions and bond modifications, by presenting positive evidence to the court when making its decision to set the bond and its conditions.
An arraignment happens when a defendant is formally charged with the crimes they are alleged to have committed. An Information is filed by the prosecutor, setting forth the charges, laws and statutes they believed were violated. The Defendant will then enter a plea of guilty or not guilty, and the case will proceed to the discovery stage of the case.
During the discovery process, the Defendant has the right to inspect all of the evidence that the prosecutor plans to use against them in the case. This includes a list of witnesses, police reports, witness statements, taped statements such as 911 calls, videos and photos, physical evidence, DNA evidence, and anything else the prosecutor feels will help to prove their case.
This is where the Rules of Evidence come into play, and why it is important to have a lawyer at each stage of the trial process. The Defendant will also have a chance to present any evidence to assist in his or her defense by listing witnesses, holding depositions, and filing motions to suppress the prosecutions evidence that was obtained illegally.
When going to trial it’s important to have an aggressive attorney at your side that will fight for you in court. There are two types of trials: bench trials and jury trials. A trial is the “fact-finding” stage of the case and determines whether a person is guilty or innocent of the charged offense(s).
It is the prosecution’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and a defendant is not required to prove his or her innocence. A defendant is also provided the Constitutional 5th Amendment right not to testify at trial.
A trial starts with opening statements from both sides, followed by direct and cross examination of witnesses, and the introduction of evidence. At the end of the prosecution’s case, the defense can move for a Judgment of Acquittal, or motion to dismiss the case because the prosecutor did not meet its burden of proof in presenting enough evidence to show that the Defendant is guilty of the alleged crime.
If the judge denies the motion, the Defense then has an opportunity to present its case and may call witnesses and introduce evidence. After each side has presented its evidence, the case proceeds to closing arguments. Following that, the judge will then instruct the jury on the governing law as it relates to the case, and then the jury will deliberate and decide whether a Defendant is guilty or not guilty.
So, that is the process.
What we at Thomas & Pearl want you to know is that if you put your faith and trust in us by hiring us as your legal counsel, we will be at your side every step of the difficult way through this process. We truly believe that our outstanding communication skills, our accessibility, and our “team” approach will combine to make the process a little easier to undergo – and a lot more likely to result in a successful outcome for you
Category : Criminal Law
Date : 20 Feb 2015