The Arrest Process in Montgomery County
For those unfamiliar with the criminal justice system, an arrest can be a frightening ordeal. Below, a Montgomery County criminal lawyer details what you can expect if you are arrested and whether it required that you are read your Miranda warnings. To learn more about what to expect, or whether your rights were violated, call today and schedule a free consultation.
When somebody is arrested usually the process is not like what you see on TV. It depends primarily on what it is that you are being arrested for. If somebody is being arrested for a crime where they have been under investigation for quite some time, such as a white collar offense like money laundering. usually, an officer has taken the time to get an arrest warrant for the defendant and serve him or her with that warrant by going to their home or place of work.
When somebody is charged with a misdemeanor offense usually that misdemeanor is conducted in the presence of the officer, and if so, then the officer has no need to go out and get a warrant because he actually witnessed the criminal act. In this instance, the arrest takes place more closely in time to the actual criminal activity occurring. An officer could be observing somebody acting disorderly outside of a bar and arrest him right away and not have to go through the formality of serving him with a warrant.
Being Placed Under Arrest
The Fourth Amendment does not require an officer to announce to an individual that he or she is under arrest or even tell them what they are being charged with. Instead, somebody will have to figure out based on clues from the officer, that they are under arrest. The biggest clue is that they are not free to leave, that they are being detained by police officers, and restricted from going about their business from there.
The other thing that someone can expect when they are arrested is that they will be in custody, they will be taken somewhere and be held there until a bond is posted.
They will also usually receive charging documents in this process and the charging documents will tell them what they have been charged with. The facts that led to their arrest will be explained to them, usually through a statement of probable cause. These facts will usually be the broad strokes of what the officer believed happened at that time the individual was placed under arrest.
Misconceptions Regarding Miranda Warnings
One misconception that people have is that just because they did not receive their Miranda warnings that they weren’t arrested. This is inaccurate. A Miranda warning does not necessarily have to be given every time somebody is placed under arrest. It is only necessary to be read to an individual if they are in custody and they are been interrogated as a result of that custody. They are being asked questions that are likely to elicit a criminal response or likely to incriminate them. So they mirandized.
People say all the time, “I wasn’t Mirandized so that means my charges are going to be dropped.” On the contrary that is not what that means. What it means is that if the judge finds that there was a violation of an individual’s Miranda rights, only the statements that were given in violation of those Miranda rights will be excluded from the evidence. It does not necessarily mean that the entire case will be thrown out.
Following an arrest, someone will either be let go or they will be formally indicted for a crime.
Going to Court
If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you can expect that the charges will be brought before the District Court for Montgomery County. Generally speaking, the charges will be set for what is called a bench trial, where the judge will determine whether or not there is enough evidence to criminally prosecute you in the case.
Felony offenses in Montgomery County are offenses charged generally in Montgomery County Circuit Court. They will start in the District Court and if there is enough probable cause, they move to the Circuit Court with a preliminary hearing. You will be moved there on the felony charges or may be indicted by a grand jury before your case is sent to the Circuit Court for Montgomery County.
The charges at the Circuit Court can either be heard by a bench trial or a jury trial. Most defense attorneys will advise their clients to have a trial by jury for a felony offense if possible, because instead of one individual deciding if you are guilty or not guilty, namely the judge, a jury will decide. The jury will have to make a determination unanimously about your guilt or lack thereof in a criminal case.