What to Expect in the Criminal Process
If you are dealing with the potential for criminal charges, you might find the process to be complicated and overwhelming. Criminal charges can lead to expensive fines, difficulty finding employment, and a permanent legal record, so it is important to understand what to expect from the legal process going further.
You can expect the following stages during criminal defense:
The initial investigation includes a deep review of the details of the case in an attempt to determine who is responsible for a crime. If the other side believes that they have completed all steps involved in the initial investigation and gathered enough evidence against the potential suspect, then they may request a warrant. A warrant will allow the local police department to arrest and bring the suspect in for questions.
The arrest must be accompanied by legal charges. The individual is read the legal charges that they are facing during the initial arrest. Depending on the charges, the individual may be held in court without bail or they may be bailed out for a fee. The judge will set the bail based on characteristics like whether or not the suspect has a previous legal record or the severity of the crime.
The judge will also consider the likeliness of the suspect coming back for their court date. If there is any question, they may be given a high bail amount or they may not be offered bail at all.
During the arraignment, the charges are listed and read to the suspect. During this time, the suspect will need to determine how they plead to the charges. They might state:
- Guilty: A guilty plea states that the suspect is admitting guilt
- Not guilty: A not guilty plea states that the suspect is not admitting guilt
- Refuse to enter a plea: A suspect who refuses to enter a plea is treated as a plea of not guilty.
- No contest: A plea of no contest means that you will accept whatever the associated punishment is, without admitting that you are guilty.
Other plea agreements may be available, depending on the details of the case. For example, some cases might include a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.
The initial arraignment is also the time in which the suspect will determine their legal representation. You might use a court-appointed lawyer or you might choose to hire your own representation.
During discovery, each side will begin to build their case. They will gather additional evidence and call on witnesses who might be able to speak on the details of the charges.
If both parties agree to a settlement, this is when it occurs. The prosecutor may offer a settlement to move onto other cases. The suspect could choose to agree to the offer so they can reduce legal fees and time in court.
In preparation for the trial, the case might include a preliminary hearing and a pretrial motion. If the defendant has pleaded guilty, these steps will not occur. However, if the suspect is pleading not guilty, their legal representation will work toward trial. A post-trial motion may also occur if either legal side has a request for a new trial.
After the completion of the trial, the suspect will receive their sentencing. They may be found not guilty or they may be found guilty and they will learn their outcome.
Defendants who do not agree with the case can file for an appeal. Whether or not an appeal is eligible for your case will depend on the details of your case.
It is important to keep in mind that not all cases will go through each of these steps. The prosecutor or your legal representation may also try for a settlement. Because settlements can reduce the time and costs associated with the court, many agree to use them.
Contact an Experienced Pemberton Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Criminal Charges in New Jersey
Were you arrested or charged with criminal charges in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal law attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Michele Finizio have successfully represented clients charged with criminal charges in Evesham Township, Mount Laurel, Willingboro, Pemberton, and throughout New Jersey. Call (609) 230-0374 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 9 E. Main St, Moorestown, NJ 08057.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.
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