To achieve the best success with any criminal arrest case, it is essential that a criminal defense lawyer helps their client facing criminal charges understand what will happen. Even the simplest of infractions resulting in an arrest on criminal charges must be dealt with according to the rules of the court. When all parties involved understand the process, it prevents misunderstanding and allows attorneys and their clients to work together for the most positive result without losing valuable time or making unnecessary mistakes.
What Happens After an Arrest?
Anyone who has been arrested for any type of criminal activity will have a report made by the arresting police officer containing all pertinent details about the incident. Once finalized, it is turned over to the court prosecutor, who must review the arrest record and then decide within 48 to 72 hours whether or not the case warrants prosecution as a misdemeanor complaint of the courts, a felony charge to be heard by a jury, or does not warrant prosecution at all. Bail or bond is then set depending on the initial charge of misdemeanor or felony. Once that decision has been made, those arrested for a felony should contact a criminal defense lawyer for representation before the time comes for the case to be heard.
Determining How a Case Should Be Charged
When a person is arrested, initial charges are made for the crime that was committed and a police arrest report that describes the situation is made. Such charges are not official until a prosecutor has reviewed the information and determined the type of crime, its severity, and the other variables that affect how the crime is classified. Since a police report only provides a one-sided account of what happened, the prosecutor must assign charges so that the arrested person’s version can be heard as well before charges are finalized and punishment is levied.
- Misdemeanor – A less-severe crime that does not involve violence and is usually punishable with fines or incarceration of up to one year. Misdemeanors are heard by the court prosecutor and judge and handled relatively quickly in most cases.
- Felony – A more severe crime that involves violence or some other event more serious than a misdemeanor and is usually punishable with higher fines and a jail sentence of over one year. Felonies involve much larger court hearings heard by the prosecutor, judge and a jury of peers to reach a decision and then punishment is assigned. [/gn_list]
Based on the legal classifications of different crimes and the actual events, the prosecutor will determine if a case is chargeable as a misdemeanor or is serious enough to be charged as a felony. When any arrest is classified as a felony, it is prudent to seek out a criminal defense lawyer as quickly as possible.
Sometimes a mild wrongdoing is simply considered an infraction and the prosecutor may dismiss official charges. Such a decision is based on the classification and severity of the crime and even if the wronged party asks for leniency against the accused. Sometimes formal charges may be dismissed if the accused is perceived as a trusted person who just made an unfortunate mistake. In such cases, a criminal defense lawyer is usually not required as the court will work the issue out quickly with the accused at that time. In these cases, the accused may simply be released or released after payment of the levied fine and/or assigned restitution. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer handle these proceedings is often the best way to be assured of a more positive outcome!
Reynaldo G. Garza, III
680 E. St Charles, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520