Stages of a Criminal Case
When violations of the law are suspected, various parties play a part, including law enforcement (police), state or federal prosecutors, and judges. Your lawyer is the only person truly on your side at all stages of a criminal case.
Even before one is arrested, an investigation, even a lengthy investigation, may be in progress without the suspect's knowledge. If you suspect you are under investigation, contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately.
According the U.S. Constitution, you cannot be arrested without an arrest warrant, except under certain conditions. For example, if a police officer witnesses you committing a crime, or has probable cause to believe you have, a warrant is not necessary. You must be advised of your rights. Your "Miranda warnings" advise you of your right to remain silent and not answer questions, and your right to an attorney.
Booking takes place at the police station. You may be questioned, photographed, and your fingerprints may be taken. You may be required to post bail, money to assure you will not flee before your arraignment.
At your arraignment you are informed of the charges against you, and you will plead guilty or not guilty.
Due to crowding of the court system (and jails) prosecutors cannot waste their time on cases for which they have insufficient evidence. They may offer you a plea bargain, the opportunity to plead guilty to a lesser charge, saving them the time and expense of a trial. Depending on the strength of their evidence, you may want to consider this.
Hearings and Motions
Depending on the court, the rules of the jurisdiction, and whether you are charged in federal or state court, both sides will establish for the court what evidence they will present, and how the trial will proceed.
Unless charges are dropped or you accept a plea bargain, a trial will proceed somewhat as you have seen on television or the movies. In most cases you will have a right to a jury trial. The jury will decide after the trial whether the prosecution has met its burden of proof and shown you to be guilty. Otherwise you will be pronounced not guilty. You would be sentenced at a later date and have the opportunity to appeal based on errors at the trial or other grounds.
Baton Rouge Drug Offense Defense Lawyers
For respected, aggressive representation at all stages of a criminal case, and more than 50 years combined experience, call (225) 250-1812 or contact Damico & Stockstill, Attorneys at Law, online for a free initial consultation at our law firm in East Baton Rouge Parish.
Our lawyers are AV-rated* under Martindale Hubbell's peer review rating system.
*CV, BV and AV are registered certification marks of Reed Elsevier Properties Inc., used in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the confidential opinions of members of the Bar and the Judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell Ratings fall into two categories - legal ability and general ethical standards.