Being charged with a crime can be a highly stressful experience, and navigating the criminal justice system can feel daunting at best. You may not know what to do next, especially if this is your first time dealing with the criminal justice system. If you are aware of the subsequent steps by a DUI lawyer, you will be more significantly empowered to be able to handle the proceedings effectively. Thank you to our friend at The Law Office of Daniel Wright for providing the below steps.
Depending on the circumstances, a judge may issue a warrant for your arrest. After an officer locates you, you will be arrested, told your Miranda rights, and booked at your local police department. There, you may be held for up to 48 hours until either your hearing is scheduled or your charges are dropped.
Contacting a Lawyer
As soon as you have been read your rights (and sooner, if possible), you should contact a criminal justice lawyer. The right attorney will ensure your rights are protected and will help you figure out your options during the proceedings, including which plea to make. You should always have a lawyer represent you in court, as the stakes of a criminal conviction – whether it is your first, third, or 20th brush with the law – are high.
Waiting for the Prosecutor
After you are booked, your local prosecutor will read the police report and decide whether or not to pursue the charges. In some cases, such as minor charges or cases with little to no evidence, the charges may be dropped and you may be released without punishment.
Attending a Preliminary Hearing
During a preliminary hearing, a judge will detail the crime or crimes you are being charged for, some of which may be changed or added after the initial assessment leading to your arrest, depending on the prosecutor’s decisions. Then, you can enter one of the following pleas: “guilty,” “not guilty,” or “no contest.” If you have been indicted by a grand jury, you will likely proceed straight to trial without a preliminary hearing.
Depending on the nature of the crime, the judge may order an evaluation. For example, you may be investigated for a history of drug abuse if you’re being charged with a DUI or DWI. As an experienced DUI lawyer can confirm, your criminal history may also come into play here. Typically, if you have a history of criminal wrongdoing, particularly of similar crimes to the one you’re being charged with, your sentencing could be more severe than it would be otherwise. This is part of the reason why any time that you are charged with a crime, you should have a solid lawyer by your side to make sure you don’t make any costly mistakes during the life of your case. If you have been arrested or anticipate that you may be arrested soon, contact a local attorney to ensure that your rights are protected.