Our criminal defense lawyers at the Lake of the Ozarks have received some frequently asked questions over the years. In this week’s blog, we are here to answer a few of those questions for you. You should always have strong legal representation when facing criminal charges. That’s where Deputy and Mizell comes in. Our criminal defense attorneys in Camden County will analyze your case and decide which avenue to take. In some cases, we have convinced the court to completely drop charges against our clients based on insufficient evidence or improper procedure. Keep reading for Part 1 of the 2 Part blog series: Criminal Defense FAQs.
What happens at the arraignment?
After submitting your plea, the judge sets a date for the next procedural event in your case. The arraignment is where the prosecutors will use the information gathered by the police to present to the judge whether or not you can be released from custody and if bail/bond is required. If you do not already have a criminal defense attorney, the judge will appoint one to you.
Do I need an attorney at my arraignment?
It’s almost always better to have a lawyer present even though it may not be required. The courts will give you a formal account of your charges even if you don’t have a lawyer at your arraignment.
What happens at a grand jury indictment?
Grand jury proceedings are much more relaxed than normal courtroom proceedings because there is no judge present and often no lawyers, only the prosecutor. The prosecutor will explain the law to the jury and work with them to gather evidence and hear testimony. The grand jury determines the probability that a crime was committed and whether you should be tried. Grand jury proceedings are not open to the public as to encourage witnesses to speak freely and without fear of retaliation, and also to protect the potential defendant’s reputation in case the jury does not decide to indict.
What happens after the grand jury makes their decision?
To indict, grand juries do not need a unanimous decision from all members but it does need a supermajority of 2/3 or 3/4 agreement, depending on the jurisdiction. If the decision is to not indict, the prosecutor may still charge you if they think they have a strong enough case. If the grand jury determines that there is a high likelihood that you might be guilty, then the indictment will go to trial.
When happens at the preliminary hearing?
If the prosecutor decides to file a felony complaint against you instead of presenting the case to a grand jury to decide on indictment, the case will go through to a preliminary hearing. During the preliminary hearing, the judge listens to arguments from the prosecutor and your attorney. The prosecutor will be attempting to convince the judge that the case should go to trial, so they may call witnesses to testify and can introduce physical evidence. Your defense attorney usually cross-examines witnesses and calls into question any other evidence presented against you. Your attorney will be seeking to convince the judge that the prosecutor’s case is not strong enough against you and must be dismissed before trial.
Will my case have to go to trial?
Every person accused of a crime has an absolute right to a trial by jury. However, most criminal cases are resolved by agreement between the prosecution and the defense, usually during the pre-trial negotiation phase of the case. The purpose of a pre-trial conference is for the prosecutor, your defense attorney, and the judge to meet and discuss a possible plea bargain.
What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?
Misdemeanors and felonies are not separated by the crime being charged but are more determined by whether or not the defendant may be punished for a certain length of time or in a specific type of prison. A misdemeanor is generally a less serious criminal offense and is punishable for up to one year in jail, whereas a felony is a more serious offense punishable by more than a year in jail. Felonies are usually crimes that are viewed severely by society, such as murder, rape, burglary, kidnapping, or arson.
If you have any more questions that we didn’t cover, please give us a call today for your free consultation. We will cover your questions and more. Deputy and Mizell has represented clients in a wide variety of misdemeanor and felony offenses. For more information, please give us a call today at one of the offices listed below.
Contact Deputy & Mizell, LLC to schedule your private (FREE) consultation today.
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