The Legal Process

The following are the steps of the legal process:

This is usually the first step to the beginning of a bad day. A police officer will make contact with you on the presumption that criminal activity is afoot. He/She will usually make small talk in order to garner information used in their investigation. Following this conversation the decision to end contact happens and a decision is made on whether to release you with awarning, release you with a ticket, or take you into custody.


If a police officer believes that a crime has been committed he or she may arrestyou and bring you to the police station or jail where you have you are "Booked". Following this procedure, the police may release you to a third party, may ask the jail to hold you for up to 48 hours in order to complete an investigation, or may ask the jail to hold you until you can bebrought before a Judge so that Bail may be issued.


If you are released without having to see a Judge, you will receive paperwork in themail notifying you of any future Court proceedings or in some counties, the Court system will simply issue a Warrant for your arrest and expect you to call the Warrant phone line and arrange for a time to turn yourself in to the Jail. If You are brought before a Judge, he or shemay release you on your promise to appear for any Court dates, may release you with conditions, may release you with conditions plus an amount of money (Bail), or may release you only on the condition you pay Bail.
Some Examples of Conditions of Release are:

  1. Submit to random Drug Testing
  2. Submit to Alcohol Monitoring
  3. No use or possession of firearms
  4. No use of mood altering drugs (Unless prescribed)
  5. Ordering suspension of firearm permits or permit applications
  6. No Contact Orders


You will eventually be charged with one or more of the following:

  1. Petty Misdemeanor (means a petty offense which is prohibited by statute,which does not constitute a crime and for which a sentence of a fine of not more than $300 maybe imposed.)
  2. Misdemeanor (means a crime for which a sentence of not more than 90 daysor a fine of not more than $1,000, or both, may be imposed.)
  3. Gross Misdemeanor (means a crime for which a sentence can not exceed 365days in jail or a $3000 fine)
  4. Felony (a crime for which a sentence of imprisonment for more than one yearmay be imposed.)


The Court Process

While every jurisdiction and county has their own policies on procedures and need for court appearances, here are the formal names and happenings for possible future Court Appearances:

This is the first time you will be before a Judge. First, your Rights will be read to you and you will be presented with the Charges against you. Your conditions of release will be addressed. If you do not have a Private Attorney and plan on hiring one, you will be given a new Court date to hire one and the next court date will be a Rule 8 hearing. If you already have anattorney, then you will be give either an Omnibus or Pretrial court date. You will also be notified of what evidence the State has against you.


This is the first time you will be before a Judge. First, your Rights will be read to you and you will be presented with the Charges against you. Your conditions of release will be addressed. If you do not have a Private Attorney and plan on hiring one, you will be given a new Court date to hire one and the next court date will be a Rule 8 hearing. If you already have anattorney, then you will be give either an Omnibus or Pretrial court date. You will also be notified of what evidence the State has against you.


This is where the Court determines whether there is Probable Cause within theComplaint to move the matter to Trial. It is also the Defendant's opportunity to challenge the admissibility of evidence, challenge probable cause or fight possible Constitutional violations committed by the State.


This is an opportunity for the Prosecutor, Defense Attorney, and Judge to discuss themanagement of the case or possible plea bargain offers.

It speaks for itself. Trial can be in front of your peers (12 for a Felony, 6 for a Gross Misdemeanor or Misdemeanor) or in front of a Judge.

Sentencing may occur immediately upon a plea of guilty or conviction or it may requirean investigation following a plea or conviction. If an investigation is needed, then you may be taken into custody or you may be released with conditions.

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