Being arrested and charged with a crime is an unnerving experience, especially for someone who has never been arrested before. What makes it worse is that there are, in fact, innocent people who get arrested and even get convicted for crimes they never committed. Many of these convictions happen when someone has no idea how to navigate the criminal justice process. At Arshad Pangere Warring, LLP, we help clients in Merrillville, Indiana, in making sure their rights are vindicated, including mounting a vigorous defense on their behalf.
This article sets out some of the information to explain the criminal defense process. For specific questions related to your case, you will need to contact our office for further information and evaluation of your case.
Under Indiana law, a person can only be arrested if the arresting officer has probable cause to believe the person being arrested has committed a specified crime. There are various means by which the officer can establish this probable cause, including the officer witnessing the crime themselves, or the arrest can follow an investigation by the arresting officer or other law enforcement agents if the investigation shows that the person has committed the crime for which they are being arrested for.
A person being arrested is referred to as a “suspect,” meaning there is probable cause to believe the person has committed a crime.
Once the person has been arrested, they are referred to as the “defendant.” A defendant has certain constitutional rights that must be read to them at the time of arrest, including the right to remain silent. This right means the person being arrested does not have to answer any questions asked by the arresting officer or any other law enforcement agent.
Another right the defendant has is the right to be brought before a magistrate or judge promptly. This is called an “arraignment,” which is the time when the prosecutor is required to inform the defendant what they are being charged with.
The defendant is then required to either admit or deny the charges. If the defendant admits the charges, then the judge will either sentence them on the spot or the judge will set another date for sentencing.
If the defendant denies the charges, then the judge will set a pre-trial date.
If the defendant admits the charges and the judge sets another date for sentencing, or if the defendant denies the charges, the judge must decide whether the defendant must remain in custody or be released.
The decision will be based on several factors, including whether the judge believes the defendant will return to court for sentencing or trial if they are released.
In most cases, unless someone has a bad case or history of not coming to court, a judge will either set a bond the defendant can post to be released. The judge can also have the person released on their own word if the judge believes they will return to court.
A defendant who denies the charges and has a pre-trial date set will then have their lawyer negotiate with the prosecutor to see if their case can be dismissed, the charges reduced, or to enter a guilty plea that is in their interest.
If no plea is reached, then the case must go to trial when a judge or jury will render a verdict as to whether the person is guilty of the crimes charged or not.
If you have been arrested in the Merrillville area, contact our office for a consultation.
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