What to Expect if You Have Been Charged with a Crime in Mooresville

If you have been arrested for a crime or are facing charges in Mooresville or the Lake Norman area you may not know what to expect. The process itself can be overwhelming and traumatic. To make matters worse, the police officers or law enforcement officials may not be interested in answering your questions. In fact, they likely will not pay much attention to your questions or concerns. It is helpful to have a basic understanding of how the process works. You may want to speak to a Mooresville criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

The Legal Process

Depending on the situation, criminal charges may be brought in one of several different ways. You may be given a citation that requires you to appear at a hearing, you may receive a criminal summons, or you might have a warrant issued for your arrest.

If you have been given a citation, it is typically for a relatively minor charge, often a misdemeanor. In most of these situations the police officer has the ability to arrest you or provide you with a citation. In general, unless you have an outstanding warrant, you will not likely be arrested for a minor offense. However, be aware that if the situation warrants, you may be taken to jail immediately.

If you receive a criminal summons you will need to turn yourself in at the police station. If the offense is of a serious nature, there may be a warrant issued for your arrest, rather than allowing you to come in on your own.

First Appearance

Regardless of how you are arrested, the first hearing is critical. You will be brought before a district court judge to review the charges against you and set the conditions of your release. If the charges are relatively minor and this is your first offense, you may have a relatively low bail. You must post bail in order to leave jail until your next hearing date. There are four types of release that may be ordered.

You may sign a written promise to appear, you may provide an unsecured bond, you may need to provide a secured bond, or you may be released from custody. Generally, you are allowed pretrial release. You will have the right to contact your attorney or family members to assist you and to post bail.

It is helpful to speak with an attorney immediately upon your arrest or shortly thereafter. An experienced Mooresville criminal defense attorney will review your case and assist you every step of the way, including at the first hearing. If you were allowed out on bail within 96 hours of your arrest, your first appearance may be scheduled for a later date.

Pretrial Preparations

The pretrial procedures allow for both sides to conduct discovery of the evidence only in felony cases. The pretrial phase is the time when your attorney may negotiate with the district attorney for a possible plea deal. A plea deal allows you to plead guilty to a lesser offense and the original charges will be eliminated. In some cases, your attorney will be able to successfully negotiate a deal that is beneficial. If not, the case will proceed to trial.

It is important to involve your attorney as early as possible in the process. This will allow your lawyer the best opportunity to gather evidence for your defense. Sometimes the evidence against you is minimal and other times some of it may not be allowed because of a technical issue. For example, if evidence against you was gathered in an illegal manner, it cannot be used against you in the case.

What to Expect at Trial

When you go to trial for a misdemeanor in Iredell District Court you will go before a judge. There will not be a jury present. The judge will hear the details of the case and review the presentation of the evidence. The judge will make a decision at the end of the case.

If you are found guilty, you have the right to appeal. The appeal would be done at the Iredell County Superior Court and the entire case would be started again. Superior Court provides a jury trial unless you waive that right. Felony charges are resolved in Superior Court with a jury trial if you desire.

It is important to protect and defend your rights throughout the legal process. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC we fight hard for our clients. We work to reduce or eliminate your charges and defend your case to achieve the best possible results. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today for a consultation.