The criminal justice process usually begins when a police officer places a person under arrest. Being arrested in Bucks County, PA can be a stressful and intimidating experience. This is especially true for people who have been apprehended for the first time. If you haven't been involved in the criminal justice system before, it's important you understand what to expect, and that you're aware of your rights when taken into custody. In this article, we will address what occurs when a person is arrested, what constitutes a lawful arrest, and the crucial role an attorney plays throughout this process.
What To Expect When Arrested
When an arrest is made in Bucks County, most people aren't immediately taken into custody and held until a judge dictates bail. What usually happens is that an officer makes an arrest, takes a person into custody, and only holds them until their information is obtained.
If a person is arrested for a summary offense or a misdemeanor, and they don't have an extensive criminal history, they'll likely be released. But at a later time, they'll be scheduled to appear at an appointment for fingerprinting (only applicable for a misdemeanor charge) and photos. After this appointment has been made in any case, a person will be mailed a summons to attend court for a Bucks County Preliminary Hearing.
A Lawful Arrest in Bucks County
A person can be lawfully arrested under several circumstances. An officer can personally observe a person commit a crime and take initiative to arrest them. For example, let's say that an officer witnesses a drug deal. The officer can, based on their personal observation of drug possession and sale, arrest the parties involved.
A police officer can also arrest a person without actually witnessing a crime being committed. All he or she has to do to constitute a lawful arrest in this situation is to establish probable cause. Probable cause exists when an officer has a reasonable belief that a person has committed, or is planning to commit a crime. This belief often stems from circumstantial factors. For instance, let's say that an officer pulls over a vehicle that has appeared to have been driving erratically. When pulled over, the officer can smell the scent of alcohol on a person's breath, notices that their eyes are bloodshot red and that they are visibly nervous. This observation alone can supply the necessary probable cause for a DUI arrest.
A police officer can also arrest a person in Bucks County if a warrant has been issued. A warrant is a legal document issued by a judge or magistrate that calls for the immediate arrest of a person who allegedly committed a crime.
Bucks County Criminal Defense Attorney
A common mistake that most people make is not retaining a criminal defense attorney soon enough. Once a person is arrested, everything they say or do can be held against them in a case. In order to maximize one's chances of a successful trial outcome, an attorney should be around to advise a defendant from the beginning, when a defendant is making statements to the police or investigators, to the end, when it comes time to defend them in a trial.
Joseph D. Lento has extensive experience helping numerous clients with misdemeanor and felony charges get their charges reduced and dismissed. Contact him online or give him a call at (215) 535-5353 at the earliest available opportunity for assistance.