Criminal processing begins when a suspect is arrested and ends when they are charged with a crime. After that, the judicial process begins, and various court hearings are scheduled. Although criminal processing happens early, it is a crucial component of the justice system.
Criminal processing begins at the arrest. While some defendants are aware they are under criminal investigation, others are taken by total surprise when they are arrested. The police need a warrant or a valid exception to the warrant requirement to execute an arrest. After your arrest, you are brought to the police station for booking. Booking involves fingerprinting, mug shots, and verifying your identity before moving on. After booking, you may be interrogated by the police. If so, they must read you your Miranda rights. Prosecutors have a limited amount of time to press charges, and then you must have a preliminary arraignment.
Criminal processing may happen quickly or take a bit longer to complete. Our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers can advocate for your rights throughout processing. For a free case review, call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.
The Arrest Process in Philadelphia
Some defendants are aware that they are under criminal investigation before being arrested. In such a case, you should call a lawyer for help immediately to begin preparing for your arrest and other criminal processing. Other defendants have no idea an arrest is coming and are shocked when the police knock on their door.
The police must have a warrant or a valid exception to the warrant rule for any arrest. An arrest warrant is issued by a judge or magistrate and is based on probable cause collected by law enforcement. The police must present their probable cause to a judge or magistrate, and if convinced there is enough evidence to support the arrest, the judge will sign the warrant.
You might be arrested without a warrant, but that does not mean the arrest is unlawful. Many exceptions to the warrant requirement exist. For example, if a police officer witnesses a suspect commit a crime, they do not need a warrant to arrest. If you are arrested without a warrant, our Northeast Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys can check if the exception used by the police was valid. If not, we may work to suppress any evidence gathered under the illegal arrest.
Booking and Criminal Processing in Philadelphia
After being arrested, a defendant will be taken into police custody at the police station. It is here that intake into the prison system begins. Booking involves numerous steps to verify the defendant’s identity and collect information for law enforcement’s records. Our Montgomery County criminal defense attorneys can help you assert your rights during this process.
During booking, the police will take your fingerprints. Your fingerprints will remain in the police system forever, whether you are charged or released. If you are ever arrested again in the future, you can be matched to police records through fingerprinting. If the police find your fingerprints at a crime scene, officers may match the prints to those in their database.
The police will also take various points of biographical information about you. Typically, your name, date of birth, physical characteristics, and general background information may be taken by law enforcement. You do not have the right to remain silent when the police ask you for basic identifying information.
During booking, you will have your mug shot taken. This is the photo police attach to your records and use to help identify you. Your mug shot might end up in a photo array used by the police to allow witnesses to identify suspects. If you are arrested more than once, a new mug shot will probably be taken each time.
Once the police have verified your identity, they will assign you a prisoner identification number (PID). This number is unique to you and is used to track you throughout the prison system. Your family should also have this number to keep track of where you are and what is happening with your case.
Criminal Processing and Police Questioning in Philadelphia
After you are arrested and booked, the police may question you about the alleged offense. Before doing so, the police must read you your Miranda rights. These rights consist of remaining silent and having a lawyer present. You should invoke these rights and wait for our Delaware County Philadelphia criminal defense attorney to arrive to help you.
Anything you say to the police can be used against you in court. It is wise to remain silent until you can have an attorney by your side guiding you through this process. However, if the police do not Mirandize you or coerce your answers, any incriminating information can be suppressed. Suppressed information and evidence cannot be used against you in court.
When Are You Charged During Criminal Processing in Philadelphia?
There is a relatively short window of time that prosecutors have to charge you with a crime after you are arrested. Generally, prosecutors have no longer than 72 hours to charge you, although there may be circumstances where prosecutors can get extra time. Being held longer than necessary before charges are assessed is a violation of your rights.
Call our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys immediately if you or a loved one has been held for longer than 72 hours without charges. An attorney can argue for your release. Being released without charges does not mean you cannot be charged. The police may re-arrest you if they gather more evidence to support charges, and you should prepare for this possibility with an attorney.
Preliminary Arrangements and Criminal Processing in Philadelphia
The preliminary arraignment often happens within a few hours of your arrest. It is here that your charges are formally read, and bail is determined. This process is usually somewhat quick, but it is still important to have a lawyer present. Our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers can advocate for the least restrictive bail possible and hopefully get you home to your family.
At this hearing, a preliminary hearing date is scheduled for felonies, and a trial date is scheduled for felonies. This is generally where criminal processing ends and preparations for your next hearing begin.
Call Our Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorneys for Help
If you or someone you care about has been arrested or will be arrested soon, you should contact our Bucks County criminal defense lawyers immediately. Our legal team will help you protect and assert your rights throughout criminal processing. For a free case evaluation, call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.