A Look at the Criminal Process
One of the most stressful things about being arrested for a first offense is the fear of the unknown. If a person has never had a run-in with the law, they typically don’t know what to expect after they have been arrested and charged with a crime. Here is a brief outline of what you can reasonably expect.
1. The Stop
The criminal process starts when a person is arrested. For this to happen, the person is either stopped or questioned by the police. A stop does not necessarily mean you are going to be arrested, and neither does questioning. Either may occur, though, prior to your official arrest. Remember that,whether or not you are not in custody, you do NOT have to answer any questions the police ask you, beyond basic identifying information like your name. The police very rarely appear out of the blue, arrest someone and take them into custody.
2. The Search
The next thing the police may ask you is for consent to search something that belongs to you. It may be your vehicle, your home or even your cell phone. If you do not consent to this search, you may find that the police look anyway. If they cannot later show the judge that they had probable cause for the search, the evidence gathered may be considered inadmissible in court.
After you have been stopped or questioned and your property searched, you may be arrested. This is when you are taken into custody, transported to the local police department or jail, and booked into the system. You will be asked to provide identifying information and perhaps answer medical questions. You will be asked to empty your pockets and your personal items will be inventoried so they may be returned to you upon your release.
You may or may not have the opportunity to post bail, depending on the seriousness of your charges. In some cases, you may be released on your own recognizance, or with a promise to appear in court. In other cases, you may be required to appear before a judge who will set your bail.
5. Initial Hearing
The initial hearing is sometimes called an arraignment. This is when you will be officially advised of your charged and able to enter a plea. You may choose to enter a not guilty, guilty or no-contest plea. How you plea at your hearing will dictate what happens next. You may be sentenced, scheduled for a sentencing hearing or set for trial.
When you enter a plea of not guilty, you are scheduled for a trial. If you are found not guilty, you will be released. If you are found guilty, you will be sentenced.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Atlanta, you have legal rights. Before answering any questions the police ask, reach out to our team of experienced attorneys for assistance. We have knowledge of the local courts and have been defending people against charges like yours for years. Call today to schedule your appointment for a free case evaluation.