Generally speaking, if you have found yourself charged with a crime, the following criminal process will apply:
The first major step in the criminal process is the arraignment where you will be asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Bond may be reviewed at the arraignment, and if you are detained on bond it should be reviewed at each stage of the criminal process until you are released.
If you entered a plea of not guilty at the arraignment, a pretrial should be scheduled with the prosecutor. At the same time, your criminal defense lawyer should demand the prosecutor provide the evidence they have against you. At the pretrial, your lawyer will meet with the prosecutor, review the evidence against you, and argue your case.
At the pretrial and each time your attorney meets with the prosecutor, he should attempt to explore whether there is plea deal that is agreeable to you and the prosecutor. Your criminal defense attorney should also explore whether there are diversion programs available, which may require you to attend a class or treatment, after which the charges will be dismissed. Throughout this process, your criminal defense lawyer should advise you of all of your options, including the benefits and risks of each choice, so you can make informed decisions and be in control, without feeling pressured to give up your rights to a trial.
Your criminal defense lawyer can file motions such as motions to suppress evidence that was unlawfully obtained by the police. Hearings may be scheduled for the court to rule on whether evidence should be suppressed.
If the matter cannot be resolved without trial, your criminal defense lawyer should be prepared with the necessary trial lawyer skills to proceed through trial and give you the best possible opportunity to receive a not-guilty verdict.
If you have unfortunately received a guilty verdict, a sentencing hearing may be requested. There are many options that may be pieced together to obtain the best sentence possible for you. These may include a combination of community control sanctions, treatment or classes, community service, diversion programs, probation, fines, and as a last resort jail. Generally at this hearing three people will make a recommendation for sentencing. The prosecutor will make a recommendation. The court will also have assigned an employee to make an investigation and give a recommendation. Finally, your criminal defense lawyer will make a recommendation on your behalf and should have the knowledge and creativity required to not only recommend the least sentence possible, but to also argue and persuade the judge to adopt the least sentence possible.
At the end of the process, you should feel satisfied that you obtained the best possible resolution to your case, and were provided legal counsel that was fighting on your side, for your rights, with the experience and skill required throughout this complex process. The criminal defense attorneys at Smith's Law Offices will provide you with the aggressive, experienced, and effective legal representation to feel confident that your rights are being protected and served.
It is often possible to expunge a criminal charge from your record one year after the date of discharge of your conviction. This will includes time on probation or during a suspended sentence. More precisely, expungement allows you to seal the records of convictions, dismissals, not guilty findings, and forfeitures. There are limitations on who may have their record expunged. For example, there are certain crimes that may never be expunged, and if you are convicted of other certain crimes this may prevent expungement. However, if after a review of your record it is determined that you may be eligible to have your record expunged, an application for expungement can be filed with the court, after which the court's probation department will conduct and investigation and a hearing will be held for the court to determine whether to expunge. While expunged records may still be used for very limited purposes such as sentencing for any future crimes, having a record expunged may be a valuable tool to remove barriers to jobs and credit.
What to Expect at a Criminal Pretrial
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