Anyone who has ever been accused of a crime has had to learn first-hand how complex and difficult-to-navigate the criminal justice system is here in the US. It’s not something anyone wants to or should face on their own. If you or a loved one has currently, or is likely to be accused of a crime by law enforcement here in Florida, the Law Offices of Yoel Molina are standing by to help. But first, let’s talk a little bit about the common questions people have when they are accused of a crime so that you understand better what you or your loved one is facing.
The following are a series of questions I’ve been asked many times over the years. I’ve put this list together to help make getting these answers even easier for my clients and others in the greater Miami area.
Q: IS IT POSSIBLE TO BE ARRESTED WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE OF GUILT?
A: Police can only issue a warrant for your arrest if they do believe you’ve committed a crime. So this means they need what is known as “probable cause.” With probable cause, they have a few options on how they can proceed:
A: The initial appearance you make before the court after you are in custody is your arraignment. At this time, your defense attorney will be provided with a complaint that states what charges are being filed against you as well as any police reports that accompany the case. If you have been placed in custody, it is at the arraignment where your defense attorney and the DA can argue bail.
Q: IS IT OKAY OR ADVISABLE TO TALK TO THE POLICE?
A: In general, it’s best to avoid signing anything or making any kind of statement to police as they may not be upfront with you about whether or not you are under investigation. If the police do ask you to come down to the precinct and make a statement, you should contact the Law Offices of Yoel Molina to secure legal representation from a qualified and experienced criminal defense trial attorney. An attorney like Yoel is able to intercede for you with the police in order to procure information and even possibly prevent charges from being filed. The key here is that bringing your attorney in allows you to avoid giving any statement which the DA can and likely will use against you if the case proceeds to trial.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS AT A PRELIMINARY HEARING?
A: Anyone who is charged with a felony will next have a preliminary hearing. This hearing takes place so that a judge of the court system can evaluate the case against you to determine whether sufficient probably cause that both (1) a crime has happened and (2) you indeed likely are the person who committed this crime. By coming ready with a criminal defense attorney, you can dispute evidence against you, secure the testimony of witnesses that help your case, and point out any inconsistencies in the DA’s case against you.
Q: IF THE JUDGE AT A PRELIMINARY HEARING DECIDES THE CASE AGAINST YOU CAN CONTINUE, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
A: The next thing that happens if your case is not thrown out in the preliminary hearing is that it is sent to the court that is appropriate for you to stand trial in depending on the nature of the charges against you. After this, a second arraignment takes place within the correct court. It’s important to note that the charges here may indeed differ from the charges brought up at your original arraignment because the DA is under no obligation to bring up any charges they feel the preliminary court proved valid – even if they were not contained in the original complaint upon which you were arrested.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS AT A PRETRIAL CONFERENCE?
A: After you have your second arraignment, the next court date you will have is your pretrial conference. It is at this conference where your attorney has the opportunity to argue any pretrial motions, like the motion to exclude or suppress any pieces of evidence from inclusion in trial as well as to even dismiss the case for lack of evidence. Your attorney can also argue for a plea bargain at this point with the DA. When this happens, your charges are reduced in exchange for a guilty plea resulting in a lesser sentencing or the reduction of the seriousness of charges brought against you. Sometimes your attorney can even argue a felony down to a misdemeanor with a plea deal.
Q: IF MY CASE GOES TO TRIAL, WHAT CAN I EXPECT?
A: In the event a disposition is not reached in your case by this point, a trial date will be set by the judge. The first stage of trial is usually the selection of a jury, followed by the presentation of evidence by both sides, cross-examinations, and finally, closing arguments. Once this is completed, the jury will retire to chambers to deliberate the case and arrive at a verdict. Depending on their deliberations, they will come back with a verdict of guilty, innocent, or a mistrial (if the jury cannot agree, depending on the state you are being tried in).
STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?
Yoel Molina is an experienced, compassionate, and qualified criminal defense attorney with years of experience defending clients on all kinds of criminal charges in the greater Miami area. If you or a loved one has been accused of a crime, don’t hesitate but call our offices today!