The Law Office of John J. Fox Articles The Stages of a Criminal Case

The Stages of a Criminal Case

By Law Offices of John J. Fox  Jan. 24, 2012 10:34a

If you've been charged with a crime, whether it is for a drug crime, sex crime, domestic violence, internet crime, etc., there are certain stages of a criminal case that will take place. Not every criminal case is handled exactly the same way, but most have certain stages in common. Speaking with a San Antonio criminal defense attorney can give you a better understanding of the process.

  • The Arrest: An arrest can take place when an officer of the law observes a person in the commission of a crime. It can also take place when there is probable cause or the police officer has a reasonable belief that a person has committed a crime. An arrest warrant may have been issued by a magistrate or judge usually after a police officer has submitted a sworn statement that lays out the basis for the arrest.
  • Booking & Bail: Following the arrest, the person is then processed into police custody. This is known as booking. From there a determination on whether the person is eligible for release by putting up a certain amount of money or posting bail is made.
  • Arraignment: This is the first court appearance that the person arrested for a crime will have. At the arraignment, the judge will typically read the charges against the person, ask if he or she has an attorney, and ask how he or she pleads to the charges. The judge may also alter the bail amount and set future court dates.
  • Preliminary Hearing: This hearing usually takes place shortly after the arraignment. The judge does not determine whether or not the person is guilty, but rather if there is enough evidence to force the person to stand trial. The judge uses a probable cause legal standard. The judge must determine if the government has produced enough evidence to convince a reasonable jury that the defendant committed a crime.
  • Pre-trial Motions and Trial: Before a trial takes place, attorneys for the prosecution and defense will try to resolve certain issues including evidence to be used at trial, witnesses who will testify, or dismissal of the case itself. If the case does not resolve before trial with a plea of guilty or a plea bargain, then the defendant will stand trial and a jury will decide on guilt or innocence.
  • Sentencing: After a person is found guilty by a jury trial or pleads guilty, the judge will decide on the appropriate punishment for the crime during the sentencing phase. Depending on the crime, the sentencing could range from probation, including community service, jail time, or even the death penalty.
  • Appeal: A criminal conviction is not necessarily the end of the case. There are other legal remedies available. You can appeal to have the conviction overturned or the sentence reduced.

Handling Criminal Matters in San Antonio

San Antonio criminal defense attorney, John J. Fox, has spent years representing his clients in many types of criminal matters. He works closely with his clients to protect their freedom and reputation. If you've been charged with a crime in San Antonio, don't delay in speaking with a criminal defense attorney. Having an aggressive and experienced lawyer on your side as early as possible in the criminal proceeding is advisable to ensure the best outcome in your case.

Charged with a crime in San Antonio? Contact a criminal defense lawyer with our office today for aggressive representation.

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