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What are the steps of the criminal justice system from the suspect's point of view?

Atlanta, GA |

I have read a bunch of confusing explanations of the criminal justice system that talk about pre-trial hearings, bond hearings, arraignments, etc. I have seen complicated, but colorful, diagrams that serve more to obfuscate the process than to explain it. What I was hoping someone could provide is a reference that explained the system from the suspect's point of view. What can I expect if I am arrested on suspicion of the commission of a felony? What are my responsibilities? What do I have to keep track of? What sorts of deadlines exist (like for requesting your personal belongings that are not being used as evidence)? I don't want to know what everyone else is doing, just where will I be sleeping and what do I have to do to get through this nightmare? Any help?

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Hire a lawyer and let them worry about deadlines etc. You can address all these questions to your lawyer. Your question makes it sound like you are going to represent yourself. That is a terrible idea.

  2. Ben is right. Lawyers are generally highly trained and have dealt with issues like these time and time again. If you are in a position to retain a lawyer, choose one you trust as he or she will look out for your best interests and ensure that all these questions are answered and all of these issues are handled appropriately. To answer many of these questions-we would need more information from you. Feel free to reach out to me and I would be happy to see how I can help you.

  3. How it goes is largely up to you. After being arrested, IF you don't post bail immediately, you will attend a First Appearance hearing withing about 48 hours. IF you don't post bail after that, you will have a preliminary hearing scheduled within a week or so. iF you don't post bail after that, you can't seek lower bail in Superior Court. IF you are being held without bail, you will be indicted within 90 days and set for arraignment sometime after that. Now you are in Superior Court and the real fun begins.

    If you are considering trying to represent yourself, you are making a huge mistake.

    All of your belongings will be at the jail until you leave or sign them out to a friend or family member.

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  4. You ask very good questions, and we all must admit that the criminal justice system is far from perfect and can be a very intimidating place to be. I've been practicing for 20 years now in criminal law exclusively, and from the "suspect's" point of view I agree with your concerns. That is the very reason why you must sit down with an attorney to guide you through the process. Nothing should be too difficult for a competent criminal defense attorney.

    To answer your question directly, with only the information you provided, if you are arrested on felony charge, expect to see a judge within 48 hours. As long as it is a bondable felony offense you can post bond, although in many cases, you may not have a preliminary hearing once you have posted bond. Feel free to call me to further discuss your case further, or at a minimum, contact an attorney that you are comfortable with as soon as you can.

    Teri Thompson, Attorney
    1745 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive
    Atlanta, GA 30314
    Office: 404-576-8262

    Responses to questions do not in any way create or establish an attorney-client relationship.

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