Pre Filing of Criminal Charges
Facing criminal charges can be one of the scariest times in a person’s life. The uncertainty about the potential results of the charges and the anxiety of simply appearing in court before a judge and jury can have significant effects on one’s mental state. This is just one of the many reasons why anyone charged with a crime should consult with an experienced Sarasota criminal defense lawyer to learn the best approach to their individual case. Most people have absolutely no idea what to expect when dealing with the criminal justice system, and the complicated and archaic terms are purposefully designed to confuse the uninitiated.
As criminal defense attorneys, we often hear questions from our clients about why, after they have been arrested, they do not have a court date set. Many of them are surprised to hear that just because they have been arrested, does not mean they have or will be formally charged with any crime. Many people upon learning this will choose to sit and wait to see what happens, leaving the decision solely in the hands of the prosecution. This can be a huge mistake, as the time between an arrest and a formal filing decision can sometimes mean the difference between a complete dismissal of one’s case or serious criminal penalties.What Happens Before Criminal Charges Are Filed?
Many people outside of the criminal justice system now realize that an arrest for a crime does not automatically equate to guilt for that crime. Police officers are humans who often make mistakes and witnesses and victims are sometimes much more unreliable than they seem. Victims of crime also lie far more often than we would hope they do. All of these factors make it a very good thing for criminal defendants that an arrest does not automatically result in formal criminal charges.
Once an arrest has been made, the police involvement in the case is usually pretty much over. The police tend to conduct their investigations prior to and immediately after an arrest. Once the arrest has been conducted, the police and other investigative entities will turn the case file over to the State Attorneys office. To make an arrest, police only need probable cause. Probable cause is a much lower standard than is needed to actually secure a criminal conviction. Once the case gets to the State, the filing prosecutors will take the investigation done by the police and move on from there. Having an experienced Sarasota criminal defense lawyer by your side during this period can make or break your case. Often the filing prosecutors have much more leeway when dealing with their cases than prosecutors have after cases have been formally filed.
Prosecutors dealing with the filing of a case have to look at the case from the perspective of: “can we prove this case at trial.” A skilled defense attorney can have a lot of influence over the prosecutors at this stage. All too often, prosecutors will act as “rubber stamps” for the police, filing just about any case that comes across their desk. When a determined Sarasota criminal lawyer gets involved at this stage, it is often a signal to the prosecutor that they will have a lot more work to do on the case if it actually gets filed. This method encourages the prosecutors to more critically evaluate their cases and can result in great outcomes for your case. A weak case can end up getting filed as a lesser offense or even better, can end up getting “no infoed” or not filed at all.Speak to Our Lawyers Today
The attorneys at Hanlon Law have years of experience dealing with cases prior to formal filing. We often have a great amount of success convincing prosecutors to file lesser charges or to abandon charges altogether. If you would like to consult with us, call us today at 941.462.1789.