You have Questions, We have Answers
I have been arrested, now what?
How does the process work after being issued a ticket?
Should I hire an attorney?
How long will it take to get my charges resolved?
When does the Bond Hearing happen?
My charge was dismissed at the Preliminary Hearing, is my case over?
How the Process Works
Charge—occurs on scene by Law Enforcement. Be cooperative and calm, but do not consent to any searches or verbal or written statements about the incident.
Arrest—if you are detained/taken into custody/locked up, you should be afforded an opportunity to go before a judge within 24 hours to have a Bond set. If you are granted a Bond, and can pay it, you can continue your life while your case is resolved.
Bond Hearing—Keep in mind that the testimony you give at the Bond Hearing may be used against you in trial. Talk to your lawyer first before blurting out in Court. Also, a judge may deny you a Bond based on the severity of the charge(s), whether or not you are deemed to be a flight risk and/or whether the judge determines if you are a danger to the community.
Preliminary Hearing—You are entitled to a Preliminary Hearing where a magistrate judge makes a probable cause finding regarding your charges. Your lawyer must request such a hearing within ten (10) days of the Bond Hearing. However, you may waive the right to a Preliminary Hearing.
Indictment—If a judge finds at the Preliminary Hearing that there is no probable cause, the case is dismissed, but it is not altogether over. If the State decides to directly indict the charges, then the case continues until a final disposition is reached. The indictment is the official document that charges you a violation of the Law.
First Appearance—General Sessions charges are resolved by having the accused and the Defense Attorney appear in Court for set court dates called Appearances. The first one is called the First Appearance and is generally a formality of making sure each accused person is represented by a Defense Attorney and the Solicitor’s make sure they have a Letter of Representation and the contact information for the Defense Attorney.
Second Appearance—After the First Appearance, there will likely be many subsequent appearances, but they are all called Second Appearances. At the Second Appearance, the hope is that the Solicitor has reviewed the case and made an offer (or decided to dismiss the case or offered Pre-Trial Intervention). Second Appearance dates will be times for me to have guaranteed face time with the Solicitor about your case, present new evidence and communicate your desires related to the offer.
Bench Warrants—if you fail to appear or do not appear on time for any Appearance date, the Solicitor has the right to issue a Bench Warrant for your arrest. Once you are picked up, I can fight to lift the bench warrant, but there is a possibility that you remain detained until the case is resolved. It is important to stay in touch with me, provide me with your best contact information and comply with all letters from the Court.
Bonds—If you are granted a Bond and are able to pay it, you also have to continue to obey by the conditions of your Bond while your case is being resolved. Failure to comply with your Bond Conditions can result in the Bond Company going before the Court and requesting to be removed from your Bond. A Solicitor may also go before the Court and move to revoke your bond. I will fight for you. However, if a judge grants either of the above motions you will loose your freedom and be taken into custody while your case is resolved.
Jury Trial—After vigorously working the case, if the Solicitor’s offer is not one you are willing to accept, you can request a jury trial. The Solicitor and the Courts set the trial dockets, but if retained for your trial, I will fervently work your case and prepare until the time your case is called.