If someone gets arrested, they get put into jail. What’s next? They had their initial arraignment and all that, how often do they have to go to court and what’s going to happen next, step by step?
After the arraignment, you’re charged with a misdemeanor and your next steps are going to be a pretrial. That’s usually two or three weeks after the arraignment. Between the time of arraignment and the time of the pretrial the attorney should be gathering the evidence such as video tapes or police reports so that they can analyze it and try and determine what the strategy should be. Once you go to the pretrial, what you want to do is you want to have a strategy in mind. Are we fighting certain issues, are we trying to suppress evidence, are we trying to get the case dismissed or are we going to try to make a plea bargain?
At the pretrial, those issues are discussed with the prosecutor and then the direction of the case goes from there. If you’re challenging evidence, then you set the matter for motion hearings or evidentiary hearings. If you’re going to do a plea, then you do the plea and you set the case to come back for sentencing. In felony cases after the arraignment you’re entitled to have a preliminary examination within 14 days of arraignment. If you go to preliminary examination, then the prosecutor has to put evidence on in a hearing to demonstrate that there’s probable cause a crime was committed and probable cause that you committed it.
This is a much lower standard of proof than it takes to convict you which is beyond a reasonable doubt; however, it still requires the prosecutor to demonstrate that there’s some evidence that the crime was committed and some evidence that you committed it. If the prosecutor can do that and it’s usually a pretty easy standard of proof for them to meet then the case is bound over to the circuit court where you have a new arraignment at the circuit court level and the case stays in circuit court from that point forward.
Once you get to circuit court you’ll have a pretrial and the same sort of things happen. You either negotiate a resolution with the prosecutor or you get into challenging evidence and filing motions. If you do make a plea bargain, then you’ll come back another time for sentencing. If you ultimately can’t resolve the case, then you have a trial to determine your guilt or innocence.
Timeline to Resolve a Typical Misdemeanor and Felony Case
Typically misdemeanor case will be done within any time from six weeks to six months. A felony case usually maybe two months to six or eight months depending on whether the person is in custody or not. Meaning if they’re in jail, then the court will move their case along quicker. If they’re on bond and they’re free living their life then the court doesn’t feel as much pressure to rush their cases along. It all depends on the individual judge and the charge. Some judges are very anal about their dockets and wanting to move things quickly and other judges let cases move with their own pace.
Getting the Charges Dropped, Dismissed, or Reduced in a Criminal Case
People often call and they haven’t been in a lot of trouble before. They’re unfamiliar with the system they really think that you should be able to tell them exactly what’s going to happen right from the beginning. The truth of the matter is every case really is unique and every case has its own set of facts, has its own prosecutor, its own police, its own judge, its own probation officers, its own defense lawyers and everything about it plays a role in how the case ultimately turns out.
It’s really difficult to just paint it with a broad brush and say how often a case will be dismissed or whatnot. What I usually tell people is what you’re getting from us is a firm that knows what they’re doing and that if there is a way to get your case dismissed, we’ll figure it out. If there is a way to get your charge reduced, we’ll figure it out. If there is a way to keep you out of jail or keep your drivers license, help you keep your job, or minimize the length of your probation, we’ll know how to do that stuff.
Every case is a little bit different. Usually, some kind of outcome can be achieved that provided the client with the thing they care most about. For some people that are a drivers license, for other people it’s a conviction, for some people it’s staying out of jail just depends on everybody’s unique circumstances.
Explaining the Protections of Miranda Rights and When They Come Into Play in a Criminal Case
Miranda rights; people often will say well “they didn’t read me my rights.” The issue with Miranda rights is they protect you from incriminating statements made while you are in custody. If you voluntarily confess to something or you voluntarily give the police the drugs, they don’t have to read you Miranda rights because you’re not in custody and being questioned. There’s a big misconception about the importance of Miranda rights because most of the time whether or not they have read you your rights does not often turn out to be the determining factor in a case.