Criminal Defense

Protect your future -

Know your Rights!

  • Arrest:

    • Most people know what an arrest is, but few know how their constitutional rights protect them against an unlawful arrest. An arrest is a forcible , physical restraint of your freedom and liberty by legal authority.  To be arrested, a police officer must either personally observe the commission of a crime, or have probable cause that a crime has occurred.  If a police officer did not observe an alleged crime  then an arrest warrant must be issued to legally take a person into custody.

  • Charge:

    • This is a formal accusation of an offense, or crime. This is usually the first step a District Attorney takes leading to a prosecution once a person is arrested. For the DA to file a charge, the prosecutor must either 1) file a "complaint;" or 2) assemble a grand jury. During an investigative period, police reports and documents that support an arrest are not available to the public; not even to your attorney. So, a defendant typically is not aware of the formal charges they face until their first court appearance.

  • Probable Cause:

    • This is a reasonable suspicion that a person has or is in the process of committing a crime, or that a place contains very specific items connected to a crime. Under the Fourth Amendment which protects our privacy, probable cause must amount to more than a mere suspicion, but does not have to be enough to justify a conviction of a crime. Law enforcement MUST have probable cause before an arrest or search warrant may be issued.

  • Preliminary Hearing:

    • A hearing held upon the request of a Defendant if the prosecutor files a felony complaint instead of presenting the case to a grand jury.  The prosecutor has the burden to show that enough evidence exists justifies a trial. If an indictment is handed down by a grand jury, a preliminary hearing is not necessary.

  • Indictment:

    • If a grand jury finds that the prosecution has enough evidence that the Defendant may have committed the crime, it will produce a "true bill" or indictment that formally charges the Defendant with the crime. If the prosecution fails to provide enough evidence, then it will "no bill" and the prosecutor will likely drop the charges against the Defendant.

  • Arraignment:

    • This is the first formal hearing before a judge after the DA has obtained an indictment, and it is usually held within 72 hours after an arrest. This is where the judge will notify a Defendant of the formal charges the government has made against them. The court will set the Defendant's bond, ask for the Defendant's "plea," and administer admonishments. The admonishments are warnings given to the Defendant of their Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights, and what can happen if the Defendant ignores, or waives his or her rights. Possible pleas are:

      • Guilty - you admit that you committed the charged crime;

      • Not Guilty - you did not commit the crime charged. If you plea "not guilty" the court will set a trial date;

      • No Contest - Defendant is not admitting to the crime charged, nor disputing it.

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