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You’ve Been Arrested or Accused of a Crime, Now What?

by | Oct 25, 2019 | Civil & Criminal Litigation |

If you’ve been arrested . . .

You will likely be held at the local jail or correctional facility until you make your initial appearance at court before a judge.  It is very important that you not speak to anyone (other than an attorney) about what you’ve been arrested for, as those statements can be used against you and jail phone calls are often recorded.

An initial appearance will be held before a judge “without unnecessary delay.”  At the initial appearance, you will be informed of the charge(s) against you, as well as the following rights:

  1. The right to remain silent; that any statement made may later be used against you;
  2. The right to the assistance of counsel before making any statement or answering any questions;
  3. The right to be represented by counsel at each and every stage of the proceedings;
  4. The right to have legal services provided at public expense to the extent that you are unable to pay for your own defense without undue hardship; and
  5. The right to be admitted to bail.

Depending on whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony, there are additional rights the judge will inform you of.  It is very important that you not make any statements at the initial appearance about the charge(s) against you.  If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, you will have the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty at the initial appearance.  It is recommended that you enter a not guilty plea if you have not spoken to an attorney first.  If you enter a not guilty plea or are charged with a felony, your next court date will be scheduled and the judge will set bail.  Bail is money or security required to be posted before you can be released to ensure your appearance at future court dates.  If you post bail, you will be released pending further proceedings.

If you’ve been accused . . .

If you have been contacted by law enforcement about criminal allegations, it is best to contact an attorney immediately before making any statements.  Keep in mind that you do not have to speak to law enforcement, or if you’ve started talking to them, you can stop speaking to them at any time.  You have the right to remain silent, and should exercise that right.

If you are charged with a crime, a court will typically issue a summons directing you to appear at court on a future date and time for your initial appearance (described above).  If you are summoned to appear at court and fail to appear, a warrant for your arrest will be issued.  If a court initially believes that you will not appear, an arrest warrant may be issued immediately instead of a summons.

Whether you have been arrested or accused of a crime, it is critical to contact a criminal defense attorney right away.  An attorney will help protect your rights from the very beginning of a case forward.  The earlier an attorney is involved, the more time the attorney has to work on your case.  If you or someone you love has been arrested or accused of a state or federal crime, contact Ohnstad Twichell immediately.

*The information provided in this letter is of a general nature and should not be acted upon without prior discussion with your Ohnstad Twichell, P.C., attorney.