What To Expect After Filing Charges in Delaware County

The criminal prosecution process in Delaware County starts when a police report is filed by the arresting officer. Based on these reports, a prosecution (the Commonwealth) will determine if the case should be charged, or if the charges shouldn't be pursued. If the former option is chosen, the charges will be filed and the process will begin.

If you've been charged with a crime and don't know what to do next, your first move should be to retain a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney. It's also important to understand the basics of the system. In this article, we'll address the process, and what to expect now that charges have been filed against you.

Preliminary Hearing

In the event that charges are filed, a preliminary hearing will be scheduled. It's usually scheduled within 30 days of an arrest in the district where the alleged crime occurred. Since this hearing will set the tone for the rest of the criminal prosecution process, it should not be attended without representation.

At a hearing, the prosecution is tasked with proving that there is enough evidence to put a defendant on trial. They have a burden of presenting evidence that could convince a reasonable person that a crime was committed and that there's a possibility that you are the one who committed it. The standard of proof in the preliminary hearing is “probable cause” - which is substantially lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in trials.

If the judge decides that this burden has been met by the prosecution, the case will progress to the Court of Common Pleas. If the judge determines that there isn't enough evidence to proceed, the case will be dismissed.

Arraignment

An arraignment will be scheduled within 30 to 60 days after a preliminary hearing. At an arraignment, a number of things will occur: the court will read you your official charges, the amount for bail will be set, and most importantly, you and your representation will be asked to enter a plea.

Pre-Trial

After an arraignment is a pre-trial conference. This conference is scheduled to fill the judge in on important details and the overall status of a case. A case can be in several stages: it could be going straight to trial, it could be delayed because of issues, or a plea deal may be in the works. Whichever state your case happens to be in will be discussed amongst your attorney, the prosecution, and the judge. This conference is scheduled a few weeks before a trial starts.

Trial

If a plea deal isn't negotiated, a trial is the next and oftentimes final phase of the criminal prosecution process. A trial can be held in front of a jury and a judge, or solely before a judge. But in the majority of criminal cases, a jury will deliberate and propose a verdict. If you aren't familiar with how a trial is conducted, here's a general order of events:

  1. Opening statements
  2. Presentation of prosecution's evidence
  3. Presentation of defense's evidence
  4. Closing arguments
  5. Verdict

Delaware 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.

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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has nearly a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania and New Jersey attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations – the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Northampton County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, Outside of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance is educational advice, and does not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.

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