The criminal law system is a complex one to navigate alone. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side can be very beneficial. Criminal defense attorneys must have a strong understanding of the criminal system to best help their clients.
How the Criminal System Works
Once you are arrested, you begin navigating the criminal process, starting with going to jail. You will appear before the judge for a “first appearance” hearing, who will set your bail amount. You can either pay the money yourself or, if the amount is not something you can pay out of pocket, you can use a bail bondsman.
A judge can deny bail, meaning you will have to remain in jail until your next appearance in court. This is usually for more violent offenses such as murder.
Your next court hearing is called arraignment. At this time, you will enter a plea of “guilty,” “not guilty,” or “no contest” to the charges against you. If you have already retained the services of a private attorney, the attorney may waive your appearance at this hearing and enter a plea of “not guilty” on your behalf.
If you have a criminal defense attorney on your side, they will collect all the evidence through the discovery process. They will likely negotiate with the prosecutor to get the charges dropped or obtain a plea bargain to a lesser charge or lighter sentence. The attorney may be able to waive your appearance at all of the Pre-Trial Conference hearings. The defense attorney may file motions to suppress evidence if there are constitutional violations present. If the attorneys cannot come to an agreement, the case may proceed to trial.
If the case goes to trial, a jury will be selected by the defense and prosecution. At trial, the defense and prosecution will present their evidence and testimony to the jury. The jury ultimately decides whether or not the defendant is guilty. If the jury finds the defendant guilty, the judge will sentence the defendant. If the jury cannot come to a verdict, the judge will declare a mistrial and the case will either be dismissed or a new jury will be selected.
If you find yourself arrested, don’t try and navigate it alone. Attorney Brandon Gans is an experienced criminal defense attorney as well as a former deputy sheriff and state prosecutor. He has knowledge from both sides of the criminal justice system to help get the best results for his clients.