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Ocean City Trial Process

If you are charged with a felony, there is going to be a multi-step process to getting to trial. If you receive charges and if any of those charges include a felony, you need to make a decision about whether or not you want to request a preliminary hearing. You need to make that decision quickly because you have to request preliminary hearings in 10 days of receiving charges. At a preliminary hearing, the only issue for the court to consider is if there is probable cause to move the case from district court over to circuit court.

The only thing the defendant can do at a preliminary hearing is listen to the state’s witness and determine if there are any potential defenses, or any potential deficiencies in the state’s evidence and to remember that it is at an early stage in their case. The issues are limited at a preliminary hearing. If the court were to find that there was probable cause to support the felony, then the case would be moved from district court over to circuit court, because circuit court is the court that has jurisdiction over felonies. The process of the case in circuit courts can be lengthy and an Ocean City defense attorney experienced in a variety of cases will prove essential for anyone facing such felony charges.

After a Preliminary Hearing

The first thing to expect from a felony Ocean City arrest after a preliminary hearing for a defendant is to first receive notice that they are to attend an initial appearance that would take place in the circuit. It would take place 30 to 45 days after the preliminary hearing takes place. The initial appearance is the opportunity for the court to advise the defendant of the charges the defendant is facing, what the maximum penalties are for those charges, and also explain to the defendant their right to an attorney.

At some point, after the initial appearance has taken place, the case will be scheduled for a trial. It could be four months or so after the initial appearance. It is a longer process when a person is charged with felonies versus being charged with misdemeanors.

First Court Date

On the first trial date, it is important for to have an attorney in place, and have met with the attorney because the attorney at that point should have requested the police reports or any other evidence that the state intends to use.

Someone will then be ready for either a trial or to enter into a plea if that is what is decided is best. Sometimes, on the first trial date, the case will be postponed and that may be because the state has a witness that could not attend court that day or the state has determined that there is additional evidence that they need to obtain before the court date. Sometimes, on the first court date, the case gets postponed but a defendant should never presume that that will happen.

Miranda Rights

The most common misconception regarding Miranda warnings is that the officer has to read the Miranda warnings upon arrest. Police officers need to advise a person of their Miranda Rights only if the person is in custody and the officer intends to interrogate them. Which means the person has to be in custody, and they are not free to go.

If someone was placed in handcuffs and was told they were under arrest and were taken to the police department, then they would be considered in custody. If the officer, at that point, wants to ask the person any questions, they need to offer the person their Miranda rights, and that interrogation means the officer wants to sit down and ask them specific questions. If the officer does not want to ask the person any questions, then they do not have to offer their rights.

Indictment Process

The one thing someone should avoid during the arrest process is feeling the need to speak with the officer and tell them their side of the story. Often people assume if they explain what happened then the officer will let them go, but that is not the case and it is more advantageous to remain silent or to speak with an Ocean City attorney before answering any questions.

It would be unusual for someone to know if they had been indicted upon arrest, just because most indictments are served by an arrest warrant, but sometimes people will get wind of the fact that there is an arrest out for them and if that is the case attorneys would recommend them turning themselves in.

At some point, once someone is arrested, they are going to be in front of a judge on bond review hearing. They are in a much better position to argue for their release on their own recognizance or released on a low bail when they can say to the judge they turned themselves in. It also can be helpful to turn themselves in because they will avoid being arrested at a disadvantageous time. Often times, when it comes to an indictment, someone is going to be arrested.