Oh No, I Have Been Arrested – What Now?
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, you will likely be brought to the jail for booking. Booking is part of the record keeping process. It includes the mug shot, fingerprinting, the alleged offense(s), and a few other miscellaneous details surrounding your arrest.
Next, using a schedule set up by the courts, a bail will be set. This amount is determined by the severity of your charges coupled with the number of charges filed against you. In some cases no bail will be set; however, most will have a bail set. Also, unless you have been charged by a grand jury, you will make an appearance before the magistrate to inform you of the charges filed against you and to be advised of the bail amount. In some cases, the judge may ask you a few questions but generally this appearance is very brief and is usually done over closed circuit TV from the jail to the judge in the courtroom.
During the initial appearance, the judge may ask if you have retained an attorney or would you like on appointed. If you ask for an appointed attorney, you will need to complete an application that includes your financial status and your ability or inability to hire an attorney.
The next court appearance will be for arraignment. Your lawyer must be with you for this short hearing. The purpose of an arraignment is for you to hear the formal charges as filed by the District Attorney and for you to declare to the court your plead of not guilty or guilty. If you plead not guilty, you have 15 days to file motions. Motions can include a wide variety of topics mostly to have the court rule the constitutionality of the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Both the United States and Louisiana Constitutions provide rights that must be adhered to for a valid arrest, prosecution and conviction. If any of these rights are found to have been violated, it is possible that all charges will be dismissed and your case will be over, unless the District Attorney can correct any errors and refile charges.
Once all motion hearings have been argued before the court, a hearing will be held as a pretrial conference to clear up all remaining issues and set a trial date.
Depending on the facts and severity of the alleged offense(s), the above can take a year or more; although, most cases are handled in six to eight months.
This brief outline only explains the highlights of the entire process. This is to just give you a general idea of what to expect. If and when you are arrested, your lawyer should keep you informed and should help you understand what is happening and what to expect.