The Process of Criminal Courts


When you are facing criminal charges the experience can be not only daunting but frightening as well. As the accused you feel helpless against such a difficult process. The entire criminal court process is rather complex and harrowing to navigate through, particularly when you don’t know just what to expect next. With a leading criminal defense lawyer by your side to ensure each of your civil rights are protected throughout the entire process the chances of things turning out positive for you have increased ten-fold. Here is what the local county criminal process most typically involves:

 

1-ARREST

When the police arrest you on the premise of probable cause they think that you have committed a crime. Yet the police don’t file the criminal charges. The police simply create and turn police reports over to the prosecuting attorney’s office along with any evidence they have seized. So who then decides if criminal charges should be levied or not? The prosecuting attorney makes that decision, the decision to prosecute you and under what charges you will be arraigned.

The most vital thing to remember above all else if you are ever arrested for a suspected crime is to contact Orange County’s Leading Criminal Defense Law Firm of Robert J. Hickey. Our criminal defense attorney will meet with you and advise you to remain absolutely silent while in custody. Your attorney is the one who can advise you of your rights and the best options for you to pursue. There are even times when your attorney can try and dissuade the prosecutor’s office from filing any charges against you.

 

2-FILING THE COMPLAINT

If your Robert J. Hickey attorney is unsuccessful at dissuading the prosecutor’s office, he will file the necessary documents alleging the criminal charges to be brought against you.

 

3-FIRST APPEARANCE AT ARRAIGNMENT

At your initial arraignment you will be formally addressed with the charges levied against you by the state. This is when they will advise you of your constitutionally guaranteed rights. In most cases, bail is set during your first appearance at the arraignment. Your bail is used by the court to ensure that you will appear at all future court dates set for the case against you.

Only the Judge can set the amount of your bail. In order to make this determination he will take under advisement two main factors. The first factor is the amount of possibility that you would leave town disappear and become a “flight risk.” The second factor in determining your bail amount is whether or not you pose any kind of possible danger to the community at large. Bail amounts vary greatly and can include being released under your own recognizance, or, conversely post a bail up to one million dollars. There are also cases where the Judge will deny bail altogether.

If you have already retained a criminal lawyer from the leading criminal defense firm, Robert J. Hickey and he appears with you at your arraignment, he may be able to negotiate a more attainable bail figure. Your leading lawyer will use the arguments against your being a flight risk and ensure the court that you pose no danger to the community. In these instances, when successful you will be released under your own recognizance with a lowered bail amount.

 

4-PRELIMNARY HEARING

All felony offenses hold preliminary hearings in order to review the evidence that the police used as probable cause in which to arrest you. The Judge must then decide if there exists a sufficient amount of evidence to support the charges that have been levied against you. Once a Judge decides that probable cause does exist in which to try you, they then send your case to an Superior Court in which to try you.

 

5-SUPERIOR COURT ARRAIGNMENT

During the preliminary hearing is when the District Attorney or it may be the Judge, who decides if there exist more charges under which to try you. If that happens, a new bail figure will be set in accordance with the seriousness of the charges brought against you. It is at this time that you will once again be read your constitutional rights and be asked to enter a plea through your defense attorney of not guilty.

It is the entering of the plea of guilty or not guilty; this is a vital decision under which your lawyer will advise you. Naturally each case is different, but most often it benefits the accused, you, to enter a plea of “not guilty.”

 

6-PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE

It is at the pre-trial conference that your defense lawyer from the leading Orange County law firm of Robert J. Hickey will meet with the prosecuting attorney representative and they will discuss the individual charges that have been brought against you. This process can sometimes also involve the Judge on your case. It is the best opportunity for your experienced defense attorney to speak directly with the prosecuting attorney in an attempt to try and obtain for you the best plea-bargain or deal on your case. It is the time that allows your defense attorney to provide the court with all the evidence and the leading criminal defense firm of Robert J. Hickey has collected in your case in which to prove you innocent of the crime.

 

7-TRIAL

Due process states that you are entitled to a jury trial where the jury consists of twelve impartial jurors. Your Robert J. Hickey criminal defense lawyer will join the prosecuting attorney to select this jury of twelve. Once the jury has been selected, both the prosecutor and your defense lawyer will make their individual opening statements, this is when we can tell your side of the story for the first time. During your trial, both attorneys will be able to introduce their own witnesses and collected evidence that will be in favor of their version of the case. Both lawyers will have the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses called forth, and at the trial’s conclusion both will make their closing arguments.

Following the closing statements, the jury will be instructed to decide upon the testimony and evidence presented during the trial. This is the deliberation phase of your case, it’s when the jury makes the determination of your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the jury finds you not guilty, you are then free to go and you can never again be tried or prosecuted for the same exact offenses.

It is at trial that you will see the expertise of the leading criminal defense attorney firm of Robert J. Hickey perform. Our firm’s hard work and all the prior preparation will pay off in your case. It’s vital that the investigation done on your behalf, researching all aspects of your case will work in your favor. Being the leading criminal defense firm in Orange County means that we know how to anticipate what the prosecuting attorney will be bringing forth as evidence against you, and the time where we will respond with the information necessary to prove your innocence.

At your trial the lawyer from Robert J. Hickey will become your voice against the charges, he will represent you and your side of the story. It’s this point that is so important for you to have the leading criminal defense firm’s many resources behind you. It’s our lawyer’s negotiation skills, and communication experience, and knowledge of the fine points of the law that will make all the difference in your trial’s outcome. Our attorneys are prepared each time they enter the courtroom and will be persistent and willing to fight as aggressively as it takes in order to defend your constitutional rights.

 

8-SENTENCING

If the worst were to happen and you received a guilty verdict it is at the sentencing hearing where the Judge will determine the amount of your penalties and impose the most appropriate punishment. It’s possible that you will receive a sentence of probation instead of a term in California prison. There are different penalties for different crimes, but you are entitled to speak on your behalf as to why the Judge should impost the lowest possible penalty.

If you were found to be guilty your Robert J. Hickey defense lawyer will work to obtain a type of alternative sentencing, for instance, alcohol treatment or drug counseling as opposed to jail time. Surprisingly, there are a great number of strategies that your attorney can use to aid in your avoiding going to county jail, or California prison.

 

9-APPEALS

When a conviction occurs your lawyer may still file an appeal. He files an appeal with the appellate court under the argument that the trial court had made legal errors during your case. Should we be able to prove that the trial court did make legal errors on your case, or that you were somehow denied due process of the law, or a fair trial, it could result in a reversal of your conviction.

 

10-PAROLE

Parole is a conditional release of the remainder of your criminal sentence in which you are able to serve the remainder of your sentence outside of prison. It’s during this time you are still under the supervision of the State of California’s department of corrections.

 

11-EXPUNGEMENT

Expungement is the legal process where, in some cases, one is able to have the conviction removed from your record. Our experienced attorneys at Robert J. Hickey can help you to determine if you can qualify for an expungement and if so, we can guide you through the process.

 

ORANGE COUNTY’S LEADING CRIMINAL DEFENSE FIRM ROBERT J. HICKEY

Our law office is committed to aiding clients all over the county when they are facing criminal charges. Whether your charges are a DUI, domestic violence, fraud, drug offenses, arson, embezzlement, child abuse, theft or a federal crime we are able to defend you and represent your rights.

 




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