How Criminal Cases Begin: A Grapevine Criminal Defense Lawyer Explains

Posted on: April 17, 2017

If you have questions about the law, speak with a Grapevine criminal defense lawyer in our office. We know that before the police make an arrest, they have to identify what law a suspect is violating. At that time, they also need to determine if it is likely that there will be enough evidence to convict the person. If someone may or may not be violating the law, but is in a gray area, an officer may issue a warning or wait to complete the arrest until gathering other evidence.

In this way, the prosecutor and arresting officer will sometimes work together before making an arrest, at least in larger cases. Otherwise, the prosecutor will need to review the arrest report after the fact and make a decision on whether or not to bring charges and prosecute.

The prosecutor has options

Even though the arresting officer will be making recommendations, the prosecutor has the final say in whether or not they want to bring charges. If they feel the evidence is weak and would not result in a conviction, they may not want to waste the court's or their time. Otherwise, they are likely to either file a complaint or official charging document or bring the case before a grand jury.

The grand jury will not determine innocence or guilt but determine if the case warrants going forward through the court system or if the charges are weak and the case should be dropped.

First court appearance and preliminary hearings

Once a prosecutor has decided to bring charges, the process will begin. The first court hearing is where a suspect can make an appearance with an attorney and enter a plea of innocence or guilt after the prosecutor has announced the charges.

The prosecution must have enough evidence to successfully prosecute the case. While there is no way to tell what a jury will decide, a preliminary hearing can take place to demonstrate to the judge that the court's time is not going to be wasted but that there is substantial evidence that can be shown against the accused. These types of hearings happen in the absence of a grand jury and a judge holds the ultimate deciding factor on whether the case will proceed to trial. Having a Grapevine criminal defense lawyer on hand is wise during this time.

Next steps

If the case is going to trial, it must be scheduled and how long this takes will be based on the court's current schedule and backlog. Also, the type of charges being brought will influence how long the trial is going to take and when it can be held. For example, a minor misdemeanor can typically be handled in a day or two at most. Something like a murder charge, however, may require a week or longer trial.

The longer the trial, the more likely that it will be months before it is held. This gives time to gather evidence and build a strong defense. For help with your case, call a Grapevine criminal defense lawyer in our office.

Note: This is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.