A criminal case in Bucks County begins when a police report is filed by the arresting officer. The police report summarizes all the events leading up to the arrest, and provides many details, like the date the alleged crime occurred, the time it happened, the location, and names of everyone involved. At this point, based on this police report, the prosecutor (the Commonwealth) will either decide that the case should be charged, or that the matter should not be pursued. If charges are filed, the criminal prosecution process will commence.
The Bucks County criminal justice system can be complex and overwhelming, especially for people who have never been involved before. If you've been charged with a crime and don't know what to do next, the first thing you should do is hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. There are many advantages to having a legal professional in your corner. The chances of a successful case outcome are increased, and you'll receive guidance from someone who's been through this process numerous times. You should also try to learn more about the system. In this article, we'll shed light on the process, and what to expect after charges have been filed against you.
Once the official charges have been filed, the preliminary hearing will be scheduled. This is the first court date before a district judge and will set the tone for the rest of the criminal prosecution process. It will take place within 30 days after an arrest in the district where the alleged crime took place. It should not be attended without an attorney.
At this hearing, the prosecution has the burden of proving that there is enough evidence to officially file charges and put a defendant on trial. In simpler terms, the prosecutor must present evidence that would convince a reasonable person that a crime was actually committed, and the defendant in question is somehow connected to it. If the judge decides that this burden has been met by the prosecution, the case will progress the Court of Common Pleas. If the judge decides that there isn't enough evidence to proceed, the case will be dismissed.
Within 30 to 60 days of a preliminary hearing is an arraignment. At an arraignment, several things will occur: the court detail the crime a defendant has been charged with along with any additional charges, an amount for bail will be set, and a defendant and their representation will be asked to enter a plea.
The pre-trial conference exists to fill in the judge on the overall status of a case. A case could be going straight to trial, be delayed, or a plea deal may be in the work. Whatever phase a defendant's case happens to be in will be discussed with an attorney, the prosecution, and judge in this phase. The pre-trial conference is typically scheduled within 45 to 60 days of an arraignment.
If a plea deal isn't negotiated, the case will go to trial. This where a jury will hear a case, deliberate, and propose a verdict. If you aren't familiar with how a trial is conducted, here's a brief overview of the usual order of events:
- Opening statements
- Presentation of prosecution's evidence
- Presentation of defense's evidence
- Closing arguments
Bucks 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.