What happens when you’re charged with a crime?
Well, the question never gets simpler than that, “What happens when I get charged with a crime?” Not because anyone plans to commit a crime or go slit their neighbors’ throat, but as the curious creature that we are, we sometimes wonder what may become of us if the curtain of crime ever falls on us.
But regardless of the motive behind your curiosity, if you’ve also been wondering what may become of you or a loved one, if they ever get charged with a crime, then you’ve come to the right post. While the general consensus is always that the suspect gets arrested, interrogated, and then subsequently charged with a crime, there are actually more steps involved than just those.
And as you may have learned or seen in movies before now, the punishment that comes with a criminal offense is not the friendliest of punishments at all.
So before you get charged, now is the time to find out what is likely to happen to you when it does happen.
What happens when you’re charged with a crime?
First and foremost, the suspect gets arrested, and a police report is prepared against the case being considered. This report is what the prosecutor reads to decide whether the arrested suspect deserves to be charged with a crime or not.
But in the event that the prosecutor cannot follow through with the charge, an indictment follows – a situation whereby the prosecutor goes to a grand jury and ask them to decide what criminal charges should be filed.
In the end, a court hearing follows, where a judge decides whether the evidence provided is enough to proceed with the case being filed.
Breaking down the above
I know all of that may not seem so comprehensive to an average curious man, but here is the breakdown of it.
The arrest and the police report
Once a suspect is identified (that is, a person believed to be responsible for a criminal action), the law enforcement agency officials (usually the police) proceed to make an arrest. But before this action is taken, the police would first have to create an arrest report and forward it to the prosecutor. This arrest report is a document that details all the events leading up to the arrest and the details of the arrest too. The report includes dates, time, witnesses, location, evidence, and other relevant pieces of information.
Now, based on this report that is sent to the prosecutor, the prosecutor can decide to:
- File a complaint with the trial court, setting forth the charges
- Go to a grand jury to present the evidence and ask them what criminal charges, if any, should be brought.
- Decide not to pursue the case.
Depending on the discretion of the prosecutor, a case may be filed or not, and if filed, they also decide which of the many possible crimes the defendant gets charged with. But the decision of a prosecutor can be influenced by any of the following factors:
Political aspirations: More often than not, prosecutors always have political ambitions, and as a result, they’re always careful of the message they send to the public. This is why they tend to prosecute some crimes even though the evidence is questionable because they know that not prosecuting them would send a bad message.
Office policies: Some crimes may be prosecuted, while others considered less important may be dropped depending on the prevailing policies in a prosecution office.
Prosecutor’s notion of justice: Just like every man, prosecutors have their beliefs and ideologies. As such, they may decide to pursue some crimes more aggressively than others, depending on what such crimes represent in their opinion.
The first hearing
In the event of a felony and a prosecutor decides to bypass the grand jury to file charges, then a first hearing is held. At this hearing, the prosecutor presents enough evidence to convince the judge that a trial is warranted.
However, if the prosecutor doesn’t bypass a grand jury indictment, then there won’t be a first hearing. This is why most prosecutors often favor grand juries because the grand jury process allows them to wait to reveal what evidence they have until trial.
What can be done when you get charged with a crime?
When you have been charged with a criminal offense, be it a drug crime, DUI, or violent crime, you need help fast. If convicted, you could face fines, imprisonment, and perhaps worse, depending on the crime and the verdict.” This is why the best line of action is for you to hire an attorney early enough.
Regardless of the type of crime you get charged with, securing the assistance of an attorney can all but save you from the punishments that come with whatever criminal offense you get charged with. Of course, retaining an attorney early on tends to have the best results. So if you or a loved one has been charged with a criminal offense, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney ASAP, as any delay could hamper your stance in the case.