Arrest may happen in several ways; you may be arrested at the scene of the alleged crime, you may be served with a warrant after an alleged crime occurs, you may be contacted and requested to turn yourself in or you may be issued a citation with a court date. In any of most of these instances you will go through the formal procedure of an arrest and then will have a pre-trial bond set. This bond can be as simple as a written promise to appear or can be an amount of money so high that it requires a person to place property as collateral to ensure your appearance at court. If you are placed under a bond that you cannot make; have someone consult an attorney to request a bond motion on your behalf.
Before Your First Court Date
Don't discuss the charges with anyone. It may be very difficult to do as curious friends and family members will want to know what happened. It is important not to discuss the charges because anyone to whom you make a statement could be called as a witness against you. Consult an attorney to determine what the potential defenses for your charges are and what could be the potential punishment.
First Court Date
On this day you will be asked to either sign a Waiver of Appointed Counsel or apply for a court appointed attorney. Once you have done that a Judge should inform you of the potential sentence that could be imposed against you for your charge and generally a new court date is set. In some cases charges may be handled on your first court date, but rarely is that the case.
Other Court Dates
After your initial court date you and your attorney should have an idea of how to proceed on your case. If you have a clean record your attorney may negotiate a deferred prosecution that will allow dismissal of the charges is you meet certain conditions. If you are not eligible for a deferment the District Attorney may extend a plea offer in your case. This offer can be to the original charge or a lesser charge and may contain conditions such as payment of costs or probation instead of jail time. After discussing the offer with your attorney you may choose to accept the offer or decline the offer and have a trial.
If you have been charged with a Misdemeanor you will have a trial in District Court. District Court trials are not in front of a jury. The judge acts as the fact finder/jury in District Court trials. Most trials in District Court last 30 minutes or less and have fewer than 4 witnesses. The District Attorney will present evidence (usually the testimony of the officer who charged you or the testimony of the "victim" who swore out the warrant to the magistrate). After the state presents their evidence your attorney will present evidence. This can be testimony from witness you may have to the incident or you as the accused may testify. Discuss with your attorney the potential problems that can arise if you testify in your own defense.
If you have been charged with a Felony offense your trail will be in Superior Court. In Superior Court you will have a trial by jury and often times these trials may last several days.
Once you have entered a plea or have been found guilty the judge will enter a sentence and judgment. At this time the judge will enter conditions ranging from a fine to jail time. The judge will outline all of the requirements that must be met to comply with the judgment. Take time after sentencing to discuss with your attorney all of the conditions imposed by the judge.
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