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Understanding the Procedure of a Criminal Case

If you are charged with a crime, you may feel overwhelmed because you do not know what to expect from the judicial system. To better help you understand what happens when you are charged with a crime, here is an overview of the four main steps.

Table of Contents

Arrest

If authorities believe a crime has been committed, they will present the evidence they have gathered to a judge. If the judge is convinced that those facts give reasonable grounds to charge you with a crime, then a warrant will be issued for your arrest. Officers will locate you and take you into the custody of the court.

Booking

You can expect to have your photograph taken, your fingerprints recorded, and your personal information included in a file as part of the processing. You will then be held in jail until your initial hearing before a judge. Consultation with a criminal defense lawyer is always recommended immediately after you are charged with a crime.

Hearing

Usually, the initial hearing takes place within 48 hours after an arrest. You will hear the charges against you as well as the rights you have under the law. You will then enter a plea of either “guilty,” “not guilty” or “no contest.” Then you will be either held in custody, released with a promise to reappear at the next court date or, for more serious charges, released on bail. If you cannot pay the bail, bail bonds Allentown PA are available to pay the amount on your behalf as a loan.

Trial

A trial may be set for presenting evidence to prove your guilt or innocence. If you are found guilty, the final step is to determine what punishment, or sentence, is deserved.

Criminal charges don’t have to be devastating. Knowing what to expect ahead of time, as well as the rights and resources you have, can remove a great deal of your anxiety.

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