Being arrested in Montgomery County is a terrifying experience. If you haven't been in this predicament before, the process can seem convoluted, making the situation even more difficult than it already is. But once you understand what to expect, you'll be able to get some peace of mind.
Before we get into the process, here are a couple of tips that are useful to consider at any point after an arrest:
Immediately contact an attorney. Failing to obtain the services of an experienced Montgomery County attorney at the earliest available time is risky. They can help you avoid mistakes and pitfalls that could potentially hinder a successful outcome in the long run.
Don't panic, you'll most likely be released. An arrest in Montgomery County doesn't guarantee that you'll have to remain in police custody. If you've been arrested for a misdemeanor or minor crime, you'll likely only be held until your information is obtained.
Don't say anything to law enforcement that you don't have to. You'll have to speak with law enforcement and investigators eventually. In these encounters it's important you don't say anything that could jeopardize your case, your attorney's defense, and ultimately your future. Don't be afraid to ask for your attorney's help prior to any kind of questioning.
The Criminal Prosecution Process
Following an arrest in Montgomery County, you'll be taken to the nearest police state in the county for processing. A criminal complaint will be filed and reviewed by the district justice. This complaint consists of your identity, your charges, and other relevant information.
Once the criminal complaint has been processed, a preliminary hearing will be scheduled shortly after. This hearing is an opportunity for the prosecution (the Commonwealth) to present sufficient enough evidence to justify putting you on trial. If a judge concludes that there is enough evidence to proceed, the case will progress to the next phase. If a judge decides that the evidence provided isn't enough, you will be discharged.
The next phase is a formal arraignment. At this phase, you'll be given a copy of the formal charging document and notified of your rights. But most importantly, you'll be asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. An attorney will advise you of the most suitable course of action.
In this phase, a judge will be notified of the state of your case, and you'll get the chance to file pretrial motions. Some of these motions include a continuance, a request for discovery, severance or joinder and more.
A trial will either be held before a judge and a jury or solely before a judge. If you aren't familiar with the way in which a trial is conducted, here's a general order of events:
- Opening statements
- Presentation of prosecution's evidence
- Presentation of defense's evidence
- Closing arguments
Montgomery County Criminal Defense Attorney
If you've been arrested for the first time, you should consult with a Montgomery County criminal defense attorney to discuss your options. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has successfully represented numerous clients who've acquired misdemeanor and felony charges and has helped them get their sentence reduced, and their charges dismissed. For a case evaluation, contact him today online or by phone at (215) 535-5353.