Getting arrested is a stressful and scary experience – one that can shake even the most level-headed of individuals. But what happens after you’re in handcuffs? What’s the process like, and how do you navigate it all without feeling lost or helpless? In this post, we’ll walk you through everything from arrest to trial and help demystify what can seem like an overwhelming legal system. Whether you’ve been recently arrested or just want to be prepared in case it ever happens to you, read on for some tips on navigating the ins-and-outs of criminal justice.
What To Do Immediately After Being Arrested
If you are arrested, the best thing that you can possibly do is stay calm. It can be reassuring to remind yourself that an arrest is not a conviction. You have rights during the arrest process and it is important to exercise them. The following are some things you should do if you are arrested:
- Ask for a lawyer. You have the right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you.
- Do not say anything without a lawyer present. Anything you say can and will be used against you in court. Even if you think what you are saying is harmless, it is best to keep quiet until your lawyer is present.
- Do not resist arrest. This will only make the situation worse – it can even result in additional charges. Calmly cooperate with the arresting officers and follow their instructions.
- Be polite and respectful to everyone involved in the process, including the police, prosecutors, and judges. This does not mean that you have to agree with them – or even like what is happening – but acting out will only make your situation worse. Calm demeanor will go a long way in helping your case.
- Keep track of everything that happens from the time of your arrest until your release from custody. This includes names and badge numbers of arresting officers, and any injuries sustained during the arrest.
Bail: The Basics
If you or a loved one has been arrested, you’ll need to be fully clued up on what comes next. One important step in the legal process is bail.
Bail is money that is paid to the court to secure the release of an individual facing criminal charges from jail. The money acts as a sort of insurance policy, guaranteeing that the accused will return for their court date. If they fail to appear, they forfeit the bail amount and may be subject to additional charges.
In most cases, bail is set by a judge during an arraignment hearing. Things like the severity of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history, and whether they are considered a flight risk will be taken into consideration when setting bail. The idea is to set a bail amount that is high enough to ensure that the defendant will return for their court date, but not so high that it is unaffordable or unreasonably punitive.
Bail can be paid with cash, check, or credit card at most courthouses. Some courts also allow defendants to post collateral instead of cash, such as property or jewelry.
If the defendant appears for all required court dates, then the full bail amount will be returned to whoever paid it. This is typically a friend or family member, but can also be someone like this San Diego Bail Bonds company.
The Trial Process
After an arrest, you will be brought to court for your arraignment. This is where the charges against you will be read aloud. It is at this point where you will have the opportunity to enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty. If you plead not guilty, you will then need to prepare yourself for a trial.
The first step in a criminal trial is jury selection. Both the prosecution and defense will have an opportunity to question potential jurors and strike those they believe would not be impartial. Once a jury is seated, opening statements will be made by both sides.
The prosecution will then present its case, calling witnesses and entering evidence into the record. The defense will then have an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses and present its own evidence. Once both sides have rested their cases, closing arguments will be made before the jury deliberates.
If the jury finds you guilty, you will receive your sentence from the judge at a later hearing. If you are found not guilty, you will be released from any further legal obligations in connection with that crime.
Alternatives To Going To Court
The Constitution guarantees the right to a trial by one’s peers, but that doesn’t mean going to court is the only option available after an arrest. In fact, there are several alternatives to going to court that can be used to resolve a criminal case.
One alternative to going to court is mediation. Mediation is a process in which two parties meet with a neutral third party to try and resolve their differences. In mediation, both sides present their side of the story and work together to come to an agreement. This agreement is then binding on both parties.
Another alternative to going to trial is arbitration. Similar to mediation, it is a process in which two parties present their case to a neutral third party. However, in arbitration, the third party decides how the case will be resolved. This decision is binding on both parties.
A third alternative to going to court is plea bargaining. Plea bargaining is a process in which the defendant and prosecutor negotiate an agreement in which the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge. This is usually in exchange for a lighter sentence or dismissal of other charges.
Navigating the legal system after an arrest can be a challenging process, especially when it comes to understanding your rights and understanding the steps that come next. It’s important to work with experienced professionals who can help guide you through this sometimes complex and intimidating system, so you have the best possible chance of getting a good outcome from your case. Recognizing what comes after handcuffs is key for making sure that justice is served no matter why or how one has been arrested.