What Happens When a Person Is Charged With a Crime?

a blue light on a car

If you or a loved one have been recently charged with a crime, the process of being charged and arrested can seem confusing. While some constitutional procedures take place after an individual is charged with a crime, other procedures vary by jurisdiction. Here’s a brief description of what happens after a person is charged with a crime.

The person charged is arrested

In some cases, an individual is charged with a crime before being arrested. When this happens, a judge will warrant for the individual’s arrest. After the warrant is issued, a police officer will attempt to locate the individual and arrest them.

After the police successfully locate and arrest the subject of the warrant, they typically provide the individual with a copy of the warrant. The copy outlines what crimes the individual is being charged for. The police are not required to provide a copy of the warrant at the time of the arrest. However, they must provide a copy within a reasonable period following the arrest.

The person is held in police custody

Following the arrest, the individual will be “booked” at the police department. Booking involves having fingerprints taken and following other requirements as mandated by constitutional and jurisdictional procedures. The individual will then be held in police custody until the court hearing or initial hearing takes place. In most cases, a court hearing will be scheduled within 48 hours of the arrest.

The individual has the right to speak with an attorney while in police custody. During this time, the individual will be given the option to contact an attorney. From medical malpractice lawyers to criminal defense attorneys, hiring an experienced attorney specific to the details of your case is key to achieving the best outcome in your case. After the individual contacts their attorney, they will have a brief opportunity to meet before the court hearing. 

The court hearing is held

The court hearing will begin with the judge reading the charges against the defendant, or the individual being charged. If the defendant was arrested without an arrest warrant, the court hearing may be the first time they are informed of the charges against them. After the charges are read, the judge will ensure the defendant understands what they are being charged with.

Next, the defendant will be asked to enter a plea. The defendant has the option of pleading “guilty,” “no contest,” or “not guilty.” The defendant can plead “not guilty” even if they committed the crime. Guilty defendants typically plead “not guilty” when they believe there isn’t enough evidence to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

After the defendant enters their plea, the evidence will be presented to the jury. The jury must decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty by weighing the evidence presented by each side. In some cases, the defendant elects to waive their right to a jury trial. In the absence of a jury, the judge will decide whether the defendant is guilty or not based on the evidence. Before a defendant waives their right to a jury trial, they should consult their attorney.

If the defendant is found not guilty, they will be released from police custody. On the other hand, if they are found guilty, a sentencing hearing will be scheduled in which a judge will determine how long the individual will be sentenced for their crimes.

If you believe a loved one has been charged with a crime, searching for their mugshot online can help you determine whether they’re in police custody. Go Look Up, an online information site, allows users to easily search for mugshots and arrest records in their jurisdiction. For instance, if you believe your loved one is being held at Mecklenburg county jail, a quick search can connect you with police records. 

Ultimately, hiring an experienced attorney is imperative after being charged with a crime. Hiring an attorney will ensure that your rights are protected and can help you obtain the best outcome in your case.