Being arrested can be a frightening and disorienting experience for anyone, but especially for those who do not have any prior experience with the criminal justice system. For many people, their entire experience with this sort of thing will be what they have seen in the movies or on the news. You may not know the answers to basic questions, such as whether the officers have to tell you the reason for which they are arresting you. Below, our experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long explain what the police are and are not required to tell you and how the criminal process will work after you have been placed under arrest.
Are Philadelphia Police Officers Required to Tell You the Reason for Your Arrest?
The simplest answer to this question is no. There is no law or constitutional right that requires the officers to tell you the reason they believe they have probable cause to place you under arrest. Generally speaking, however, it is considered best practice for the police to tell you why they are arresting you, even if they do not explain the charges in great detail.
If you are being arrested based on a warrant issued by a judge, while the police still do not technically have to tell you what you are being arrested for, they are required to show you the warrant for your arrest in most cases. The warrant should clearly state what the charges are. If for some reason the police absolutely refuse to tell you the reason for your arrest, the latest you will learn the charges against you is when they are read at your preliminary arraignment, which typically must occur within 72 hours of your arrest and booking.
What Happens After I Am Arrested in Philadelphia?
After your arrest, you will be transported to the local police station for what is known and the booking process, where you will be fingerprinted and photographed and the officers will collect your biographical information. Then, you will be kept in the station’s holding cell or taken to the local jail until your bail hearing, which will usually occur via videoconferencing. In some cases, usually for minor crimes like underage drinking, the police may release you with a summons to come back on your court date without the need to hold a bail hearing.
At the bail hearing, the magistrate will decide whether you can be released on your own recognizance, or without bail, if bail should be set, or if you must be held in jail until the underlying criminal matter is resolved. Typically, bail will not be withheld entirely except for in cases involving very serious charges like homicide. The magistrate will make this decision based on the bail guidelines, as well as such factors as your criminal history, potential flight risk, ties to the community, and the nature and severity of the crime alleged. Our experienced Philadelphia bail hearing attorneys at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long know how to make the most persuasive arguments for you to be released on little to no bail.
Either at the same time as your bail hearing or shortly thereafter, there will be a preliminary arraignment where the charges against you are read. At this point, you or your lawyer should be able to receive a copy of the police report through the discovery process so that you can have a better understanding of what you are being accused of. Later on, there will be a formal arraignment where you will enter your official plea. If you are represented by a lawyer, they can attend the formal arraignment on your behalf.
What Rights Do I Have Throughout the Rest of The Criminal Court Process in Philadelphia?
You have the right to be represented by counsel throughout your entire proceeding. Furthermore, you have the right to a trial by a jury of your peers in most cases, though some trials for minor crimes and infractions will occur before a single judge. If your arraignment has passed and you have not already retained a veteran Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long, you should do so immediately.
After the bail hearing and arraignments have passed, your lawyer will prepare any motions and begin speaking with the prosecutor about the possibility of a deal where your charges are downgraded or dismissed. If you do not have an extensive criminal history, we may be able to convince the prosecutor to let you into what is known as a pre-trial diversion program, such as the ARD program for DUIs. If you complete this program successfully, your charges will be dropped and you will not have a criminal record. Other deals could include the charges being downgraded to something less severe or the prosecutor agreeing to recommend a lesser sentence if you plead guilty.
Of course, if you do not wish to take a deal or are not satisfied with the deal offered, our skilled trial attorneys at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long are always and ready to mount an aggressive offense and fight for a not guilty verdict. As noted above, you will typically have the choice to have a trial by jury, where the jury must reach a unanimous decision to convict you. You will also have the option of a bench trial before a judge, however. You and your attorney will discuss whether this may give you a better chance at a not guilty verdict depending on the particulars of your case.
Call Our Seasoned Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyers Today
While the police are not technically required to tell you why the are placing you under arrest, they will do so as a courtesy in most cases. Either way, your charges will be read against you at your preliminary arraignment. It is vital that you reach out to a skilled criminal defense attorney like those at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long as soon after your arrest as possible so we can be there to represent you at your arraignment and bail hearing. For a free consultation, call us today at 1-800-358-0305.