You may have seen in movies that sometimes the police stops a suspect and frisk him and other times they arrest the person. That is precisely how the criminal process works in reality – stop or arrest the suspect. It can continue to the point of sentencing based on the nature of a case. By chance, if you get caught in any such situation, don’t panic. Exercise your rights at every stage. In case you are not aware of them, here is a brief on what you can do from the beginning till end.
What to do when you are stopped?
The police may stop you for questioning, but this is not an arrest. You will be asked a few questions where they detain you. Remember that a police officer cannot stop you without any solid reasons for violation of the law on your end. Also, you need not to respond to his questions either. But you should maintain your politeness and calmness. Also, no officer can check you or your vehicle without your permission until and unless he possesses “probable cause.” Probable cause is the basic rule in the criminal law of the US that allows the police to issue an arrest warrant or search warrant against a crime suspect on reasonable grounds. In the case of immigration, “reason to believe” is a standard for probable cause.
If police authorities have probable cause, you cannot refuse them to search and also cannot challenge it immediately. The process may end here if the police don’t find anything. There will be no arrest as well.
What happens when the police arrest you?
Although every area has its criminal laws, an officer can take you in his custody based on probable cause that you were involved in a crime or found guilty of a misdemeanor, or if there is an arrest warrant. The police will tell you about your constitutional rights that mention you have the right to keep silence and seek legal advice from a lawyer. It means after you are arrested, you can call your lawyer or family or friends to inform them about your situation. You can make more than one call. The police cannot keep you in custody for long until you are proved guilty of a crime. Either they can file a case or set you free. In case no criminal charges were brought, but you have been detained in custody for a long time, then your lawyer can request a judge for your release.
What is the process if a criminal charge has been filed?
However, if a criminal offense charge is brought against you and a case has been filed, then you will have to give your fingerprints, personal details, such as name, contact, etc. for entry into the record. You will have to hand over all your belongings to the officers. Whatever items you give will be registered in their inventory, which you will need to sign too. The severity and the circumstances of the case will determine your release or order for a court appearance. You can come out of jail on your recognizance or a specified amount of bail. Recognizance implies that you agree for appearing in the court and sign a written note for it. You don’t have to pay any cash.
In some cases, a defendant has to stay in jail until he gets bail orders from the court. If that happens, then you will have to make one of the three pleas – guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If you plead not guilty, the judge will lay down the conditions of your release or release you until the trial. Other two cases don’t involve courtroom trial. The process of sentencing begins where a decision on the level of punishment is determined.
Since getting booked under a criminal offense can be risky, it is recommendable to take assistance from a competent criminal defense lawyer who can guide you through the entire process successfully. For help, you can visit bailbonds4u.com.
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