As a criminal defense attorney, a lot of clients call the office wanting to know more about the process of criminal prosecution along with their legal options. Prior to making an arrest, the police will need to determine what law the individual violates. An arrest report will then go to the prosecutor for review. At that time, the prosecutor will need to decide if the case is worth taking to trial or if the offense was too minor to warrant pressing charges.
Having an attorney at this time is wise because there is always an opportunity for a plea bargain early on and we can avoid charges altogether.
It is most likely that a prosecutor will speak with the police prior to making a final decision but in general, they will either:
Going to court for the first time can be incredibly intimidating especially when facing criminal charges. This makes it wise to have a criminal defense attorney present. The prosecutor is likely to read what the charges are going before the judge and then a plea will need to be made for innocence or guilt.
Very often, bail is also a topic of discussion. Having an attorney present in court makes the process far easier.
These hearings are critical to the process when a grand jury is not involved. The prosecution must demonstrate to the judge that there is enough evidence to charge the accused with a particular crime and that there is likely to be the evidence necessary to get a conviction.
While the jury will ultimately decide this in the end if the prosecutor's case is weak or based on circumstantial evidence, then it will become clear. The judge may then decide to dismiss the case.
If a judge or grand jury decides there is merit to the case, it will proceed to trial. The trial can be fast but typically is not. The courts are backed up and it can take months for a criminal case to go to trial. In many ways, this is a good thing because it allows for time to gather evidence that can refute any of the claims the prosecutor is making, to identify witnesses.
It is critical to have as much time as possible in preparing a criminal defense since this will increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. It also makes it wise to hire an attorney as quickly as possible to ensure that there is adequate representation during the entire process.
If you or someone you know has been accused of committing a crime, or there is concern that it may happen in the near future, call our office and schedule a consultation with a criminal defense attorney. Time is of the essence and it is possible to begin working with the prosecution early on so do not delay.
Note: This is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.