There is nothing as frightening or potentially life changing as being charged with a criminal offense.
The effects of a criminal conviction may potentially include jail or prison time. Additionally, there are potential effects outside the courthouse as well, including loss of employment, professional licenses, suspension of your driver’s license, fines, and orders of restitution.
The process in felony criminal cases is as follows. Firstly, the defendant is charged in an Indictment, which is a formal charge issued by the Grand Jury. This may originate in the Grand Jury (a Direct Indictment) or may originate in the lower municipal court, and be transferred to the Grand Jury after a Preliminary Hearing.
After the indictment is issued, the Defendant must attend an Arraignment, whereupon the Defendant generally enters a No Guilty plea. Bond is also set at this hearing, and other court dates are generally scheduled. You should never attend this, or any other hearing, without a lawyer.
At this point, your attorney will request and obtain Discovery, which consists of the documents and other evidence the prosecution intends to use to prove the case against you. The attorney for the Defendant also has the duty to provide any evidence that they intend to use. A pretrial conference between the prosecutor and defense attorney is generally held to see if the case can be resolved by agreement.
In many felony cases, the legality of the police work is in question. Unwarranted searches, seizures, and arrests can result in evidence that is illegally obtained by the police. With an experienced attorney, a Motion to Suppress Evidence can make the difference between winning and losing your case.
If the case is unresolved at this point, it is generally set for trial. In felony cases, most trials are Jury Trials, decided by a jury of 12 men and women. You also have the option of waiving a jury and having the trial heard by the judge alone.
While the law states that there is a presumption of innocence until proved guilty, many prosecutors and police officers don’t see it that way, and are out to convict every defendant. That is one reason why you need experienced, aggressive representation on your side as soon as you are accused of a criminal offense.
Regardless of the level of offense, if you are charged with a crime, don’t delay. Call the Law Office of Attorney Michael Booher for a consultation.