You may have no interest in ever personally experiencing what happens when you’re charged with a serious crime, but it helps to have the knowledge in the back of your mind. There are plenty of people who spend time in jail facing charges on crimes they did not commit.
It’s important that you understand the process and your rights in the situation. You don’t want to sell yourself short based on your lack of knowledge. Check out a brief look into a few things to expect should you ever be charged with a serious crime.
The initial arrest and report
When you’re initially arrested, the police must first file a report to officially file charges against you. The report is forwarded to the local prosecutor, and that individual is responsible for deciding whether or not to file official charges.
In the meantime, you will be placed in jail. Once charges are filed, you’ll get news on whether or not you have the ability to pay a sum of money to bail out of jail.
This process can sometimes take a few days. The most important quality in jail is patience, as nothing is a fast process when it comes to legal proceedings.
Understanding your Miranda rights
Most people have seen and heard from a movie or television series that police are required to read you your “Miranda” rights. In reality, there’s much more to it than being cuffed and told you have the right to remain silent.
If the police don’t intend to question you, they are not required to read you your rights. If the charge isn’t a felony, they don’t have to read you your rights.
The Miranda rights should be seen more as a reminder that you don’t have to answer questions posed by police, and you have the right to legal counsel. Play it smart and safe. Never admit guilt, and do as little talking with police as possible.
The significance of an arraignment
After your arrest and charge, the paperwork goes to a docket. Your case is assigned a court date and room in which you will officially go through the process of being charged.
This is the time when you’ll hear specifics. For example, you could be charged with robbery, assault, murder. Whatever the case, your arraignment is meant to hash out the details and formally charge you with a crime.
Whether you are still in custody or not, you will have a chance to meet with your legal counsel, and receive valuable guidance from someone who knows what’s happening during your arraignment.
Heading to the Grand Jury trial
If your case is turned over to a grand jury, you’ll be facing some interesting times ahead. A grand jury trial is unlike a normal jury trial in that it takes place behind closed doors without you or your lawyer being present.
A prosecutor presents your full case of charges to the jury, and the jury decides whether or not to take the case further. Though you and your lawyer won’t be present for these proceedings, you will have full access to the transcripts.
Image Credits: Bill Oxford