September 28, 2016 By Paul Wallin

criminal justice system

10 Things Every Criminal Defendant Needs to Know

If you are accused of a crime, you can expect that the police are not going to give you helpful information beyond what they are constitutionally required to do. Law enforcement will often try to use your inexperience with the criminal justice system to their advantage. That is why you need to follow these helpful tips if you have been arrested.

  • You Must Remain Silent

Upon arrest, you will be given a Miranda warning from the police. They are required to read you your constitutional rights when they take you into custody. The very first one right they will mention is the right to remain silent.

Not only is it your right to not speak, but it is exactly what you should do. Anything you say can be used against you, including if you say it to someone who is not a police officer. The police will want you to speak, and they hope you will go as far as admitting to the crime. Instead, you should politely tell the police that you are invoking your right to remain silent, and that you will answer no further questions without your lawyer present.

  • Do Not Resist Arrest

If you are being arrested and you believe you have done nothing wrong, you may want to fight back and resist the police. It can be difficult to fight this urge, but you must cooperate. If you do not, you could face an additional charge that might stick even if you are found to be innocent of the crime for which you were arrested.

  • Hire an Attorney

The early moments of your case are critical, which is why your next step should be to inform the police that you want to speak to an attorney. The sooner you hire an attorney, the sooner he or she can get started building your defense and help you avoid making mistakes during the investigation period of your case.

  • You Can Speak Freely to Your Attorney

Although you don’t want to talk to police, you should tell your attorney as much as you can about your case. You can do so with confidence because what you say to your lawyer is strictly confidential. This will help your attorney craft a winning defense strategy.

  • You Can Be Held Without Charges

In many cases, authorities may suspect you have committed a crime, but they do not have all the evidence needed to convict you at the time of your arrest. The police have a limited time frame to make their case to the district attorney or they must release you. In California, if you were arrested without a warrant, you can be held for 48 hours without charges being formally filed against you.

However, this rule does not include weekends or any holiday for which the courts are closed. So, for example, if you are arrested on the Thursday at noon before a legal holiday where the courts are closed, you can be held until noon of the following Tuesday.

  • You Might Be Released But Charged Later

If the police miss their window to charge you while you are in custody, you will be released. Does this mean that your case is over?

In some cases, it does not. Law enforcement can continue their pre-filing investigation and recommend to the district attorney that charges be filed against you at a later date. Having an attorney while the police are conducting this pre-filing investigation can be crucial. Your lawyer may be able to convince the district attorney not to pursue charges or to file less serious charges.

  • An Attorney Can Save You Money on Bail

Hiring an attorney before your arraignment and bail hearing can potentially save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Your lawyer can argue that you can be trusted to return to court on the date promised for trial, and that the court should release you on your word without having to pay bail.

If being released without bail is not a possibility, your attorney may be able to save you money by arguing for a reduced bail amount. Even if the bail isn’t lowered, hiring an attorney could give you access to attorney-referred bail, which gives you a 2% discount on bail bond fees.

  • Entering a Plea

The arraignment will be your chance to give the court your answer to the charge against you. At your arraignment, the prosecutor may offer a reduced charge or sentence in exchange for you pleading guilty to the crime. Your attorney can evaluate the offer and help you decide how you are going to answer the charges at your arraignment.
The Right to a Speedy Trial in a Misdemeanor Case

You are guaranteed the right to a speedy trial. If you plead not guilty, the court will set a trial date at your arraignment. On a misdemeanor, depending on whether you were in custody when you were arraigned, your trial may be set to take place anywhere between 30 and 45 days after the arraignment.

  • The Preliminary Hearing in a Felony Case

If you are facing felony charges, you will have an extra step between your arraignment and trial known as the preliminary hearing. At this hearing, the prosecution must reveal evidence to show a reasonable suspicion that you committed a felony. Your attorney can argue for dismissal of the case based on a lack of evidence or based on the police violating your constitutional rights.

This hearing must be scheduled to take place within 10 court days of the arraignment, but there are some exceptions. These exceptions include:

  • If you request a continuance of the preliminary hearing
  • A witness necessary for the preliminary is unavailable due to your actions
  • Your attorney is too ill to attend
  • A conflict has come up and you require a new attorney

If the court decides at the preliminary hearing to proceed with a trial, your trial can be scheduled to start up to 60 days after the preliminary hearing. You can, however, waive your right to a speedy trial and extend the start of your trial.

Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Right Away

At Wallin & Klarich, we have more than 40 years of experience successfully defending people against criminal charges. We know how difficult and frustrating a criminal case can make your life. That is why we use our skill and knowledge at every step of your case so that you can receive the best possible outcome in your case.

With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, Victorville, West Covina, San Diego, Torrance and Sherman Oaks, there is a Wallin & Klarich attorney experienced in criminal defense near you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.

AUTHOR: Paul Wallin

Paul Wallin is one of the most highly respected attorneys in Southern California. His vast experience, zealous advocacy for his clients and extensive knowledge of many areas of the law make Mr. Wallin a premiere Southern California attorney. Mr. Wallin founded Wallin & Klarich in 1981. As the senior partner of Wallin & Klarich, Mr. Wallin has been successfully representing clients for more than 30 years. Clients come to him for help in matters involving assault and battery, drug crimes, juvenile crimes, theft, manslaughter, sex offenses, murder, violent crimes, misdemeanors and felonies. Mr. Wallin also helps clients with family law matters such as divorce and child custody.

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