Pretend for a moment that you are the type of person who commits crimes – a “criminal,” one might say – and after a night of alleged criming, you are caught by the police and arrested.
Well, you’ll be processed and will likely have to spend an initial night in jail, and they you’ll need a lawyer – but let’s go step by step.
First, the Miranda warning
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
Second, they’ll look at your stuff
At the time of the arrest, the police may also search you and your surroundings to see if you have any weapons, stolen items, or criminal evidence. They may seize your car. They may also take any money and personal property, provided they give you an inventory of what they’re taking.
This isn’t illegal because they allegedly caught you committing a crime. If you’re in the commission of a crime, cops can look at (and take) your stuff. They’ll still need warrants for some searches, though. For example, if you get busted for DUI, they can’t search your house.
Third, you go to the station
If you are arrested, the arresting officer will likely drive you to the local police station. At the police station, you will be booked. The police do have the right to ask certain informational questions such as your address and date of birth. The booking process also includes:
- Being fingerprinted
- Having your picture taken
- Collecting a DNA sample – especially if the offense is a felony
After you’re booked, the police can start a custodial investigation – but only if you agree to it. As a rule, we advise all clients not to agree to a custodial investigation. We do recommend that if you’re arrested, you call us.
What court hearings are required at the initial stages after your arrest?
The three initial hearings after an arrest are:
- The bail hearing. This hearing determines under what conditions you can be released from prison while your trial is pending. In many cases, you may be released on your own recognizance because of some ties to the local community. In other cases, the judge may set a bail amount which you and your family/friends will need to raise to secure your release. Many states are limiting or even abolishing cash bail because many defendants simply can’t afford any cash bail. Instead, judges decide whether you should be released based on the seriousness of the offense, the likelihood you might flee if released, and other factors.
- The arraignment. This is the hearing where you are informed of the legal charges against you. You will then plead either not-guilty or guilty to these charges. As a general ruled, all defendants please not-guilty at this stage.
- The preliminary hearing. This court hearing requires that the prosecution present enough evidence to show that there is a reasonable basis for believing you committed the offenses that are charged. It’s a low standard which is used to determine if your case should be scheduled for a trial or if the charges should be dismissed. At the preliminary hearing, we question the witnesses against you to determine the strength and weaknesses of the government’s case.
After the preliminary hearing, an experienced Annapolis criminal defense lawyer may file a motion to suppress any illegally obtained evidence and other pre-trail motions to help your defense.
At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, we help clients at every step of the defense process. If you’ve been arrested in Annapolis, Ellicott City, or anywhere in Maryland, get the help you need. Please call us at 410-271-1892 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment.
And remember: Keep Calm – and Call Drew.