Our criminal practice focuses on representing clients from investigation to a disposition, whether that is trial, a dismissal, or a plea. We appear on a daily basis to help clients get bond, bond reductions, preliminary hearings, and other relief that is generally requested at the very beginning of every criminal case. In addition to our felony practice, we also represent clients in the same respect to charges such as driving under the influence, drug-related charges, and other misdemeanor offenses.
When should you hire a lawyer?
In order to understand the importance of when you should hire a lawyer, you should first understand the difference stages of a criminal proceeding. Although it will be explained below, we always advise to hire a lawyer as soon as you think you may be a suspect in any criminal wrongdoing. What happens at the beginning of a criminal investigation will make or break your case in the end.
Stages of a criminal proceeding:
Arrest – more likely than not, it is likely that if you have been charged with a criminal offense, you have been arrested. In the event that you may be a suspect in a felony investigation, there are times that you will not be arrested until you have been indicted by a grand jury. Regardless, the chances are often high that at some point, you will be arrested.
Initial appearance – after you are arrested, you will be brought before a judge for your initial appearance. The primary purpose of your initial appearance will be for the judge to read you your formal charges and ascertain whether or not bail would be appropriate.
Preliminary hearing – if you have been charged with a felony offense, you have a right to a preliminary hearing upon request. At the preliminary hearing, the judge will determine probable cause and the conditions for release, if any. At this stage, every defendant has the right to cross-examine the witnesses and introduce their own evidence.
Indictment – in the event that your felony case is presented to a grand jury, they will determine whether or not there is probable cause to indict you. The grand jury process is handled by the district attorney’s office.
Arraignment – If the grand jury returns an indictment charging you with a felony offense, you will appear in front of a judge for arraignment. Prior to the arraignment, you should be served your indictment. The arraignment will consist of:
(1) ensuring that the defendant has a copy of the indictment;
(2) reading the indictment to the defendant or stating to the defendant the substance of the charge;
(3) asking the defendant to plead to the indictment;
(4) determining whether the defendant is represented by counsel and, if not, appointing counsel, if appropriate, under Rule 7;
(5) reviewing the bond previously set, if appropriate; and
(6) setting reasonable deadlines for the filing and hearing of all pretrial motions. Pretrial motions shall include, but are not limited to, motions: to dismiss, to suppress evidence, to request discovery, 85 for continuance, for severance, for appointment of experts, for mental examination, or for any other matters which may delay the trial.