It is common to feel helpless after a loved on has been arrested, especially if you do not understand how the justice system works. If your husband has been taken into custody, you are likely to want to help him in any way possible, but you may have no idea where to start. Retaining an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long can go a long way toward getting your husband’s case resolved in a satisfactory manner. However, you may be unsure if you are permitted to hire this lawyer or if your husband must do it himself. Below, our lawyers take you through when and how you can hire a lawyer for your husband and how that lawyer will help at each stage of the criminal process.
Hiring a Defense Lawyer for Someone Else in Philadelphia
If you have never before experienced the criminal justice system, you are likely to be uncertain what you can and cannot do on your husband’s behalf. When it comes to hiring him a defense lawyer, you are absolutely permitted to do so, whether he is charged with a minor crime like disorderly conduct or a major crime like in a Philadelphia arson case. Anyone can hire a defense lawyer for anyone else. However, this does not mean that the lawyer must share confidential information obtained in conversations with your husband, even if you are the one paying. Attorney-client privilege still applies.
The Criminal Process in Philadelphia
In Philadelphia, the criminal process consists of multiple stages. Below, we will explain each of these stages and how an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long can help with your case at each stage.
A preliminary arraignment occurs after your husband has been arrested when he formally appears before a judge to hear the charges against him. This hearing must occur no more than 72 hours after he has been arrested. At this hearing, the judge will also determine whether your husband will be released on his own recognizance (without bail), held until he can pay bail, or held with no bail.
At this stage, a lawyer can help your husband avoid being detained during the criminal process against him by advocating on his behalf for him to be released on his own recognizance or for a reasonable amount of bail. Factors taken into consideration by the judge when determining bail include the seriousness of the crime you are charged with, your criminal history, your financial and employment status, and your ties to the community.
No more than ten days after a preliminary arraignment, a preliminary hearing will be held where the Commonwealth’s attorney will be required to present evidence of the case against your husband. The standards are lower than at an actual trial, and the prosecutor must only prove that he is more likely than not to have committed the crime he has been charged with.
Your husband’s attorney, on the other hand, will have the opportunity to argue that, based on the evidence or lack thereof, no “probable cause exists” for the charges against him. If this argument is successful, the charges will be dropped. If not, your husband’s lawyer will often speak to the prosecutor about the potential to dismiss the charges without a formal arraignment, and the prosecutor may offer a deal such as entry into a pre-trial diversion program.
If no deal is reached after the preliminary hearing, your husband will be formally arraigned by a judge. Your husband’s charges will be read to him and he will plead guilty or not guilty. His attorney will typically advise him to plead not guilty for the time being while they request discovery and file motions, such as a motion for suppression of certain evidence. For example, in a case of alleged theft in Philadelphia, the attorney will want to acquire any potential security footage of the theft.
Once all the motions have been decided by the judge and all evidence has been received by both sides in the form of discovery, a pre-trial conference may be held. Your husband’s lawyer will negotiate with the prosecutor and the prosecutor may offer a “plea bargain.” A plea bargain involves him pleading guilty to a lesser charge, or the prosecutor promising to advocate for minimal penalties, in exchange for your husband waiving his right to a trial.
If your husband chooses to take his case to trial, the Commonwealth will bear the burden of proving all elements of the charges against him beyond a reasonable doubt. He can choose to request a jury trial or a bench trial, where a judge will decide. His attorney can advise him on which type of trial might be best in his situation. At trial, both sides will make their cases by presenting evidence and witnesses. At the end, the judge or jury will return a verdict of guilty or not guilty.
If your husband is found guilty, he will next have a sentencing hearing where the judge will decide what penalties he will face. Sometimes, such as for serious charges like rape, there are mandatory minimum sentences that judge must hand down, but often the judge has a great amount of discretion to decide what kind of penalty your husband will face. An experienced lawyer can argue for minimal penalties by presenting evidence of your husband’s good character and reputation outside of this particular incident.
If Your Husband Has Been Charged with a Crime, Call Our Philadelphia Criminal Defense Team Today
No one wants to get the dreaded late-night phone call from a husband telling you that he has been arrested and needs your help. However, the actions that you take after you receive such a call could have a huge impact on whether or not your husband walks out of this situation with a serious criminal record or a slap on the wrist. There is nothing more important that you can do for an arrested loved one that to ensure that they have a skilled Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long on their side fighting for their rights. Our lawyers will mount an aggressive defense in and out of the courtroom and work to get your husband’s charges dismissed or downgraded. For a free consultation, call us today at (215) 302-0171.