The criminal justice process usually begins when a police officer places a person under arrest. Being arrested in Montgomery County, PA can be an intimidating and stressful experience. If you haven't been involved in the 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 in Montgomery County, what constitutes a lawful arrest, and the important role an attorney plays throughout this process.
What To Expect When Arrested
When an arrest is made in Montgomery County, you can bet that a defendant will be released. After an officer makes an arrest, a person is taken into custody and holds them until their information is obtained.
If a person is arrested for a summary or misdemeanor offense and doesn't have an extensive criminal history, they'll likely be released. At a later time, they'll be scheduled to appear at an appointment for fingerprinting and photos. After an appointment has been made in any case, a person will be mailed a summons to attend court for Montgomery County Preliminary Hearing.
A Lawful Arrest in Montgomery County
Identifying whether or not an arrest is lawful is an important aspect of your case. If it is determined that an arrest is unlawful, a defendant's case could be dismissed. To figure out if an arrest was lawful in your particular case, you need the help of an experienced attorney who understands state laws. But generally, a person can be lawfully in several circumstances.
If an officer claims to have personally witnessed a person commit a crime, he or she has the authority to arrest them, and any other participants. For example, let's say that a police officer claims to have seen a drug deal. Based on an officer's perception of this crime, he or she is allowed to arrest the parties involved in an alleged criminal act for drug possession or sale.
A police officer can also arrest a person without actually catching a suspect in the commission of a crime. The only element needed to constitute a lawful arrest in this predicament is probable cause. Probable cause technically exists when an officer has a reasonable belief - based on facts and circumstantial facts - that a defendant has committed, or is planning to commit a crime. Perhaps an officer pulls over a vehicle that appears to be driving recklessly. If an officer claims that they can smell the scent of alcohol on a person's breath, that their eyes are bloodshot, their speech is slurred, and that they are visibly nervous. This observation alone can substantiate the necessary probable cause for a DUI arrest.
Lastly, a police officer can arrest a person in Montgomery County if a warrant is 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.
Montgomery 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 countless clients with a 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.