Many people think they know what happens when someone is charged with a crime based on movies and television shows. Unfortunately, much of what you see on TV is fabricated.
If you or someone in your family is charged with a crime, understanding the process that follows can be helpful.
Sometimes, you won’t be arrested. If the charge is a minor misdemeanor, then you can be charged and prosecuted without being arrested. However, more serious crimes will likely result in you being arrested.
The arrest report
Once you are arrested, the authorities create an arrest report that is given to the prosecutor. This report includes why you were arrested when it happened and the officer’s notes.
Once the prosecutor receives the report, the prosecuting attorney will decide how to move forward. They may decline to press charges, modify the charges or increase them.
The grand jury
Once the prosecution has made its ruling, the grand jury will determine if the charges are fair for the situation. This is not when you will be determined innocent or guilty.
The preliminary hearing
In some criminal cases, a preliminary hearing will be scheduled. During this hearing, the judge will decide if there’s enough evidence to move forward with the trial. It’s during the trial that the prosecution presents its evidence.
Your rights when charged with a crime
You have rights when charged with a crime. It’s best to avoid speaking to the prosecution without first knowing what your rights are. Having knowledge of the process is also beneficial, as this lets you know what to expect. While criminal cases can be stressful, knowing your legal rights and options can help reduce some of this stress.