Knowing what to expect after a Philadelphia arrest can help you remain calm and make the right decisions along the way. One of the most important things you may want to consider is contacting a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible and following their advice to help protect your rights.
No matter the charges you potentially face, the steps in the process are generally similar. Here is what you can expect:
The Process Begins with Your Arrest
There are generally two ways you could face arrest:
- At or near the scene of a crime, when police arrest you immediately
- After a warrant is issued
Many people face arrest immediately following a crime. The police know something illegal occurred, and they believe you perpetrated that crime. They may have limited evidence but have a reason to believe it was you. This is common in crimes involving:
- Violent crimes such as assault and battery
- Domestic violence
- Drunk driving
- Breaking and entering
In other cases, police investigate a crime and identify you as the person they believe committed it. They may have enough evidence to convince the judge that you are the likely culprit, leading the judge to sign an arrest warrant. They can then ask you to turn yourself in or come to arrest you.
In some cases, you may be aware of the investigation before there is an arrest warrant issued. Police may ask you to speak with them about the crime in detail. If this occurs, you should contact an attorney to protect your rights throughout this process.
For a free legal consultation, call 215.515.3360
Intake and Processing at the Nearest Police Precinct
Once a police officer arrests you, they will take you to the nearest police district for intake and processing. According to the City of Philadelphia, there are 21 police districts. Most people go through intake at the nearest precinct to their arrest, although exceptions may exist if the crime occurred elsewhere or if you were investigated by the Special Victims Unit or Homicide.
The main headquarters of the Philadelphia Police Department, sometimes called the “Roundhouse” is 750 Race Street (8th and Race Streets) in Philadelphia. However, the arresting officers can tell you where they are taking you or notify your family of where you are.
Your Initial Arraignment Will Come First
You will want to contact an attorney as soon as they give you a chance, or your family can hire one for you immediately after your arrest. Your initial arraignment will come within 12-24 hours, and you will want representation before this hearing, if possible.
During this court appearance, you will go before a bail commissioner. They will discuss your charges and whether you have legal representation. They will also look at the facts of your case and set a bail amount based on whether the government can show that you are either a flight risk or a danger to the community. They may point to the places that you have family or have lived before or your prior record.
If you can make bail or your attorney can negotiate an arrangement that allows you out of jail at this point, you may go home shortly after this appearance.
Attending Your Philadelphia Preliminary Hearing
If you are charged with a felony in Philadelphia, the next court appearance will be a preliminary hearing. You must have an attorney for your preliminary hearing. They will explain to you what to expect. During this type of hearing, the prosecution will need to show the court that “more likely than not”:
- A crime occurred.
- You were involved in that crime.
It is important to note that there is no weighing of the credibility of witnesses or the strength of evidence in this hearing. It is not a trial. However, it is a pivotal step in determining if your case moves forward or not.
Entering Your Plea
Next is your arraignment, when you will enter a plea. You may or may not need to attend or speak during this hearing. In many cases, your attorney can handle this on your behalf without you needing to attend.
If the plea is not guilty, this will set the stage for the beginning of the pre-trial process and preparing the case to go to court.
Pre-Trial Conference and Preparation for Trial
After your arraignment, your attorney will begin preparing for your trial in earnest. This includes discussing pre-trial offers, plea agreements, and other arrangements that could reduce the charges you face or the penalties that come with them. This is also when your attorney will receive all of the discovery (documentation of the evidence) to review the strength and weaknesses of the government’s case.
During a pre-trial conference, the prosecution will discuss and negotiate possible outcomes in your case. They may be willing to work with you based on the strength of the case your attorney built and the mitigating circumstances involved.
In many cases, the government wants to resolve criminal cases without going to trial as much as those accused do. Going to trial is time-consuming, expensive, and stressful for victims, witnesses, and those accused.
Going to Trial
In Philadelphia, you can opt to go before a judge or a judge and jury. Your attorney will explain the pros and cons of each and help you decide. If you cannot negotiate a plea with the prosecution during your pre-trial conference, your case may go to trial. During trial, the prosecution will present evidence showing:
- A crime occurred.
- You committed this crime.
Your defense attorney will, in turn, present a strong defense on your behalf that could include arguing:
- Why you could not be the guilty party
- Who actually committed the crime
- A crime did not occur
- Other reasons why you are not guilty of the alleged offense
Following the presentation of evidence, the jury or judge will determine if they believe you committed the crime or not. If they find you guilty, you will face a sentencing hearing, as well.
There may also be some available legal action following your trial, especially if they rule you are guilty. This could include filing an appeal with a higher court or other post-trial matters.
Call Our Team Today for Your Free Consultation
If you face arrest or a loved one was recently arrested, reach out to the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC. Our case results speak for themselves.
Our criminal defense lawyer who handles cases in Philadelphia can help guide you through the process. You can speak to our team for free now.