Christine Bennett, Attorney at Law

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Criminal Cases

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What to expect?

Investigation.

You have the right to request to speak to an attorney.  If you request to speak to an attorney then law enforcement must wait until you speak to an attorney to interrogate you.  You also have the right to deny police the permission to search your property such as your home, your vehicle, and your purse.  If you deny consent to search, police must obtain a search warrant approved by a judge before your property can be searched.  There are specific exceptions to this requirement such as for extreme examples involving a risk to public safety.  If probable cause that a specific crime was committed does not exist to search the property then the judge will deny the search warrant.  If probable cause does exist, the officer will have the right to search your property but only according to specific guidelines as directed by the judge.  You should not be penalized in any way for respectfully asserting your right to an attorney or because you respectfully denied an officer the right to search your property.

Charges filed.

You will either be served with an summons or an arrest warrant upon the filing of a criminal charge.  If a summons is ignored, the Prosecuting Attorney may obtain an arrest warrant from the court.  This is true even for the least serious kinds of criminal cases such as Driving with a Suspended License.  The first court date is the Arraignment.  Generally, with misdemeanors, the court will waive your presence upon the hiring of an attorney which means you do not have to come to court on that date.  Arraignment is when you are formally advised of the nature of the charges your are facing and in some cases the Prosecuting Attorney will ask the judge to address the conditions of release on your case or request additional bail be posted, or that you be taken into custody.  Next, you will be given an Omnibus date.  At Omnibus, the Prosecuting Attorney and Defense Attorney let the court know whether all of the evidence has been exchanged and what pretrial motions will be necessary.  Next, you are given an Pretrial date.  At Pretrial, the parties let the court know whether they are prepared for trial.  Trial is your last court date and this is when a jury determines whether you are guilty or not guilty.  The Prosecutor has the burden of proving you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  If you are found not guilty, you have no further obligations to the court.  If you are found guilty, the case will proceed to Sentencing in which case the Prosecutor and Defense may argue the matter of sentencing to the Judge and the Judge will determine the sentence.

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