Each single step in the defense process can affect the overall outcome of your criminal case. Whether the case goes to trial, gets dismissed, or reduced, it’s important to know and understand how the charges might affect your freedom. Hiring an experienced and reliable West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer will provide you with the legal representation you need, and will also give you peace of mind knowing your case is in professional and capable hands. If you’ve been arrested for any kind of crime, it’s wise to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer who’s familiar with the entire legal process, while helping you easily navigate through it. Having a knowledgeable professional on your side right from the start could mean all the difference between a conviction and a dismissal. With that in mind, here are the steps of a criminal defense case in West Palm Beach:
Arrest or Notice to Appear –
The criminal process in West Palm Beach is initiated when one is arrested or when one is issued with a notice to appear in court. If an arrest is made, you’ll be taken to a police station and then booked. At this time, your fingerprints and picture might be taken. It is important to note that you’ve right to remain silent, and the right to an attorney,
First Appearance –
You’ll appear before a judge within 24 hrs. of the arrest and booking. The judge will set the bond that’s required in order to make bail. If bail is denied, you’ll remain behind bars til your case is decided.
First Arraignment –
During the arraignment hearing, the formal charges are given. You’ll enter a plea of no contest, guilty or not guilty. In case you plead no contest or guilty, the next stage and step will be sentencing. In case your plea is not guilty, your case will continue and proceed to trial; that is if a plea bargain isn’t reached before trial.
Pretrial Hearing –
During a pretrial hearing, your West Palm Beach defense lawyer can try to have the case dismissed by basically filing some pretrial motions which can help suppress witness testimonies and evidence. The judge might decide to disallow or allow certain evidence, or may even dismiss the whole case altogether.
Plea Bargaining –
In case the prosecution proves that they’ve got enough evidence to charge you, and take your case to trial, the process of a plea bargain can be initiated. The objective of a plea bargain is for both parties/sides (that is, the prosecution and defense) to agree on what penalty (or penalties) the defendant will get in exchange for a guilty plea.
During this arraignment, you’ll be presented with the formal charges. You’ll be directed to enter a plea of no contest, guilty, or not guilty. If you enter a not guilty plea, the case will go to trial after the defense and the prosecution have been given adequate time to prepare. If you plead no contest or guilty, the case will proceed to a sentencing hearing.
If the case goes to trial, you’ll have the choice of trial by jury or trial by judge. If you’re found guilty, sentencing will take place at a later date.
Sentencing Hearing – At this final stage, the court will decide the penalty or punishment you should receive.
If you or one of your loved ones have been charged with any kind of crime, you should contact an experienced West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney for representation, and legal guidance throughout the criminal defense process.