According to the FBI's latest crime statistics (compiled and summarized for 2012), over 12 million people are arrested in the United States per year, ranging from violent crimes, to nonviolent property crimes. In 2011, there were 3991.1 arrests for every 100,000 people living in America- which averages out to one in twenty five Americans. And the trends still indicate that the number of arrests in America are increasing- with nonviolent-crime arrests being one of the largest growing statistics. In addition to the obvious underlying problem of mass incarceration, the frightening reality is that more people are being arrested without probable cause than ever before. This means that the number of false arrests are growing, and for ‘offenses' such as attending peaceful protests or as a result of ‘stop and frisks.'
Arrests can be damaging, even if they never result in criminal charges. They generally go on your criminal record, which can be checked each time you apply for a job, housing, or credit. Arrests are also expensive, if one is required to pay bail. The costs then add up of there is a subsequent criminal trial process.
The Arrest and Bail Process
Police are required to have probable cause to arrest someone. Probable Cause means that police officers must be able to point to objective circumstances leading them to believe that a suspect committed a crime. Once you are arrested, it means you are taken into custody- and once your detainment has become custodial, police must read you your Miranda rights so as to avoid violating your constitutional rights.
Once handcuffed, you will typically be taken to the precinct in which the arrest occurred for initial processing. An officer will ask you for basic information such as your name, address, and take your fingerprints and personal property on left on your person at that time (ie. wallet, IDs). They are not allowed to question you about the suspected crime. Once you have been fingerprinted you will be taken to Central Booking and processed for arraignment or a bail hearing, which is an appearance before a judge. Alternatively, you may also be sent to an officer who screens arrestees to gage their ‘flight risk.' From there, the judge or officer decides whether to set a bail amount.
“Bail” is known as the amount of money you must post in order to be released from jail. A judge or officer will consider the seriousness of the charges against you, whether you have prior convictions or a record, or whether you pose a flight risk or public threat. The amount of bail (defined as the “money or other security deposited with the court to insure that you will appear”) is set by a schedule in each county so it varies according to the crime and location. If you are required to post bail, you will typically have to borrow money from a bail bond company to pay it- unless you can come up with the set amount on your own.
If there is no reason to believe that you will not show up for your court date, you may be released on your own recognizance (commonly referred to as an O.R. release). Simply put, O.R. release is a no-cost bail if a defendant (typically first time offenders) signs a promissory note to appear in court on his or her court date. O.R. releases are also a right to those who are not charged with a criminal offense, unless their release will 1) compromise the public safety or 2) will not reasonable ensure your appearance in court.
The Criminal Trial Process:
Once you are freed on bail or O.R., you must show up for the rest of your court processes (ie. trial). If you fail to appear in court, your bail will be lost and a new warrant will be issued for your arrest. Typically, upon your release, you will get a date and time you will need to first appear. This can be the arraignment itself, which is the first court appearance after arrest. You will be formally notified of your charges by the judge at this process, and given the chance to plead guilty or not guilty. Your lawyer may be present with you, and you should more often than not, plead not-guilty. Depending on the circumstances of your case, there may be a pre-trial hearing (which gives your lawyer a chance to negotiate with the prosecutor), and if nothing can be resolved at that stage, you will move to the trial stage.
If it is appropriate for your case, you may have the option of choosing between a jury trial or a bench trial. A jury trial consists of 6 people (for misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor crimes) or 12 people (for felony crimes) randomly selected. A bench trial would allow the judge to be the sole ‘fact finder.' During trial, both sides will get to present their evidence. The prosecutor must prove every element of the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt” in order to render a guilty verdict for you. After all that is done, the judge will formally impose the sentence, regardless of whether there was a jury involved (the judge will just announce the jury's findings). The judge will may also take into account the recommendation of the prosecutor. The end result of the sentencing can result in a not-guilty verdict, to community service, to jail time.
Let My Extensive Experience as a Former Prosecutor Work For You."
The Law Offices of Steve Karimi is dedicated to protecting the freedom, constitutional rights, criminal record, and reputation of each of his clients. As a former prosecutor for the state of Washington, he is familiar with the administrative process and the inner workings of government agencies, including police departments, bail processes, and the criminal trial process. He will handle everything in your case with detail and zeal, including all steps necessary to build your defense, and to keep you out of jail. He specializes in all misdemeanor and felony cases. Contact Snohomish and King County criminal defense attorney Steve Karimi today. We look forward to providing you with superior criminal defense representation.