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Being arrested or taken into custody can be an extremely frightening and stressful experience. However, knowing what to expect while you go through the legal process can help provide you with peace of mind and ensure that your situation doesn’t get any worse.
With these things in mind, the following are the basic steps of the criminal process and what you should expect to take place at each. To learn more specifically what will take place or to begin building a defense for your case, call and schedule a consultation with a Henrico County criminal lawyer today.
After you are arrested you will be taken to the sheriff’s office which is located next to the jail. The officer will then bring you before a magistrate. The officer will give a statement to the magistrate about the events that led to the arrest, which will then be used to determine the charge and determine your bond. There’s a chance you may be released right then and there if the charge is minor or if there’s no prior criminal record.
If there is no bond set by the magistrate or you cannot afford the bond, you will be held in Henrico County Jail which is located adjacent to the sheriff’s office. You will then go before a judge for any arraignment but the Judge can also address bond for you if it was withheld.
After you are arrested, the first opportunity you will have to contact a lawyer would be after you see the magistrate, so after the magistrate determines the charge or if a charge will be filed against you, you will be given an opportunity to place a phone call and at that opportunity you can contact a counsel.
One of the most common mistakes actually criminal defendants make is that they begin giving statements to police and investigators without first speaking with an attorney or even worse they attempt to handle the entire criminal matter on their own. You should never speak with law enforcement or go before a judge without assistance of counsel.
After charges are filed you may be released on bond whether that is unsecured or what’s called a PR bond. If there is no bond, then you will be taken before a judge for an arraignment and a possible bond hearing. At your arraignment, the judge will read the charge and advise you of your right for an attorney whether that would be court appointed or your right to retain your own counsel.
At the arraignment, a new court date or trial date will be set and if you have advised the court that you wish to retain an attorney, they will set what’s called an attorney status hearing. An attorney status hearing is a hearing a for you to advise the Court who your attorney is and set a trial date.
If it is a felony case, then the matter will be set for what is called the preliminary hearing for probable cause and then it will be certified up to circuit court. If it is a misdemeanor case, the entire matter will typically be resolved in the general district court.
A grand jury is a jury that determines if a felony charge should be certified to circuit court. The purpose of the grand jury is to determine whether there is enough evidence to try the accused at all.
To do this, the state or the prosecutors will present evidence to the grand jury and they must present evidence showing probable cause. They present testimony from officers or witnesses about the charge and unfortunately the case in front of a grand jury, the defendant is not given opportunity to cross-examine or defend against any of these grand jury witnesses.
If after a hearing in front of the grand jury, the grand jury determines that there’s probable cause for the felony charge, they will turn an indictment or what’s called a true bill. If they find that there is no probable cause, they will turn what is called not a true bill.
The grand jury is not required to have a unanimous vote; it is only required that a majority or at least four members of the grand jury agree that there is probable cause for a case. And then after if a true bill is granted, then the matter will move to circuit court and be set for trial.
An indictment is basically the true bill. If a grand jury determines that there is probable cause, they will issue the true bill and then an indictment will move forward for trial of the felony charge to go either before a judge or a jury on what is requested by the defense or the prosecution.
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