Dauphin County Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you or someone you know has been arrested for an alleged criminal offense, you need an attorney immediately. Having a lawyer as soon as possible puts you in a better position to defend yourself and protect your rights.
After a person is arrested, they may go through several pretrial hearings in quick succession. After being booked into custody and questioned by the police, you may go through a preliminary hearing and an arraignment. Although your trial has not yet started, you should still have a lawyer with you through all these proceedings. A good rule of thumb regarding criminal defense lawyers is the sooner you hire one, the better. Your attorney can help you figure out exactly what kind of charges you are facing and how to challenge them and hopefully help you avoid a conviction. Your lawyer might assist you by challenging evidence, filing pretrial motions, and working to raise reasonable doubt among the jury.
If you have been charged with an alleged crime, call our criminal defense lawyers of The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 and set up a free case evaluation.
What Happens After Someone is Arrested for a Crime in Dauphin County?
We often see the arrest process play out in varying degrees of accuracy on television and in movies. Many Americans are at least somewhat familiar with what an arrest looks like and what happens when the police take someone into custody, but what about what happens after? A lot happens between the arrest and the trial in a criminal case, and you should have a skilled and experienced lawyer with you every step of the way.
Booking and Custodial Interrogation
Immediately after a person is arrested, they will likely be brought to the police station for booking and questioning. The booking process involves taking photos of the defendant (i.e., a mug shot) and fingerprinting. The police will also ask you personal questions about your name, address, and other identifying details. They need this information to verify your identity and check if you have a criminal record, outstanding warrants, and things of that nature. The booking process is often relatively quick.
After booking, the police may hold you in custody for questioning. Because you are in police custody and unable to leave during questioning, the police are required to talk to you about your Miranda rights. These rights include your right to refuse to answer questions and to have an attorney with you while you are in custody. You should invoke these rights immediately.
Avoid answering questions until you have a lawyer present. The police sometimes try to convince defendants that waiting for an attorney only eats up more time, and if they just answer a few questions, they can go home faster. Do not fall for it. Call your lawyer.
The preliminary hearing is sort of like a mini-trial that comes shortly after a defendant is charged. According to 234 Pa. Code Rule § 542(D), the prosecutor is required to present a prima facie case at the preliminary hearing. This means they must show enough evidence to establish that a crime has been committed and that the defendant committed it. This does not mean that the prosecutor must show all possible evidence or that the prosecutor will meet their burden of proof in a trial. It is only enough evidence to show that a trial is warranted.
It is important to have a lawyer by your side during this hearing, as they can highlight the faults and flaws in the prosecutor’s evidence in the hopes of having your charges dropped or dismissed. Essentially, if your attorney can show that the prosecutor cannot present a prima facie case, you should not be prosecuted.
If you are held over for a trial, your next hearing will be a formal arraignment. You should be formally advised of the charges against you at this hearing. The charges at your arraignment might or might not include all the offenses you were initially charged with, depending on the outcome of the preliminary hearing.
You should also be advised of numerous rights going forward, and a trial date may be scheduled. In many cases, the defendant is given the chance to enter a plea. How you plead is incredibly important. If you plan to fight the charges, you should enter a not-guilty plea. However, if you are open to it, our criminal defense lawyers can try to work out a plea bargain with prosecutors where you may enter a guilty plea to charges that are reduced and carry lighter penalties. You should thoroughly discuss these options with an attorney.
When You Need an Attorney for Criminal Charges in Dauphin County
The sooner you hire a lawyer to help you, the better. Many people do not speak to a lawyer until they have been charged. This often means they did not have a lawyer with them during custodial interrogation, and they may have unintentionally provided incriminating information to law enforcement.
Ideally, you should call a lawyer immediately after you are arrested. If, for whatever reason, you did not call a lawyer after being arrested, you should call one before your first appearance in front of a judge. You should definitely hire a lawyer by the time you get to your preliminary hearing.
People sometimes hesitate to hire a lawyer because they are worried about expensive legal fees. They might also mistakenly believe that their case will be dismissed, the charges dropped, and the whole thing will blow over. It is better to hire a lawyer than to proceed alone and find out too late that you should have had an attorney all along.
Call Our Dauphin County Criminal Defense Attorneys for Help Now
If you have been accused of a supposed crime, call our criminal defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 and set up a free case review.