If you or a loved one has been arrested, you may be facing several unknowns. Not knowing what is going to happen can cause a lot of stress and worry. When your emotions are high, you could inadvertently make a misstep that substantially affects your case.
A couple of the most important things you can do at the early stages of your case is remain calm and not resist the arrest. Explaining your side of the story will not result in police letting you go but could lead to more trouble for yourself.
At The Hoffman Firm, we recognize that staying calm after an arrest may be easier said than done. We have written this blog to give a brief overview of what to expect after an arrest. We hope that the information eases some of your worries and allows you to see that you have options to fight your charge and seek a favorable result that could help avoid or minimize penalties.
The Booking Process
One of the first things that will happen after your arrest is that officers will take you to the police station for booking. The booking process involves recording your personal information, including your name and date of birth, and taking your photograph and fingerprints. The information is logged into the law enforcement agency's system.
Your Rights After an Arrest
It is important that you are aware of the protections available to you throughout the criminal process. This allows you to exercise them when appropriate and recognize when they have been violated. Asserting your rights and noting any infringement upon them can impact the direction and outcome of your case.
Below are a few of the rights you have after an arrest:
- The right to remain silent: This protection provides that you do not have to give any statements to the police beyond your name, address, and date of birth. If law enforcement officials have arrested you and intend to question you, they must inform you of your right to remain silent – referred to as reading your Miranda rights. You must state out loud that you are exercising this right.
- The right to a phone call: You can make a local phone call to a person of your choosing. During the conversation, provide the other person with information about where you are and what charges you are facing, as these details are necessary for getting you out of jail on bail. Note that law enforcement officials may be listening in on your call. Thus, you mustn't speak too much about your situation. Any statements you make could be misconstrued and used against you in your case.
- The right to an attorney: You also have the right to have a lawyer represent you. They can provide advice and counsel during the interrogation process and throughout your case.
Within 24 hours of your arrest, you will be scheduled for an arraignment. The arrangement is where a judge will advise you of your rights and inform you of the charges against you and ensure you understand them. They may also set bail and determine what conditions should be imposed upon you if you are allowed pretrial release.
The Plea Bargain
In some cases, it may be possible to resolve the matter outside of court through negotiations with the prosecutor. Generally, a plea bargain requires that you plead guilty in exchange for reduced charges or a lesser sentence. Note that although you, your defense attorney, and the prosecutor might agree on a deal, the court still must consent.
If you plead not guilty and are unable to settle your case with a plea bargain, you will be set for trial. During trial, the prosecutor and your defense attorney will present evidence and cross-examine witnesses to support their arguments and negate the opposition's. The burden rests on the prosecutor to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
If the judge or jury is convinced of your guilt, you will be sentenced. The length of imprisonment, amount of fines, and other sanctions imposed will depend on the facts of your case.
Why You Need a Criminal Defense Attorney
Having a defense lawyer on your side is vital. Criminal law is complex, and it takes years of schooling and practice to fully understand the nuances of the process. An attorney will have the knowledge and skills to help you navigate your case.
A lawyer will also be familiar with the rules and processes of criminal court. They know how to present arguments and can file motions to have certain pieces of evidence suppressed if they determine it was obtained illegally.
It can be intimidating going through the criminal justice process alone. Often, it can feel as if the system is stacked against you, as law enforcement officials and prosecutors will be working hard to prove that you are guilty. With an attorney on your side, you will have someone standing up for you and protecting your best interests.
A criminal defense attorney can also make this overwhelming process less scary. They can discuss your legal options and explain the various avenues that can be explored. Without a lawyer, you might not know what alternatives are available.
Most importantly, an attorney will work relentlessly to build your defense.
Developing a compelling legal strategy involves a lot of legwork and various tasks, such as:
- Gathering evidence
- Interviewing witnesses
- Hiring experts
- Reviewing and analyzing the prosecutor's case
Your lawyer will take care of all the details, relieving you of these legal burdens.
At The Hoffman Firm, we are here to help you through every stage of your case, from the arrest to sentencing. We know that there is a lot to understand, which is why we will be beside you, explaining the process and ensuring that you are aware of your legal options.
To schedule a free consultation with us, call (305) 928-1669 or submit an online contact form today. We serve Miami and the surrounding areas.