When police arrest you, first you will be taken to jail. Thereafter, however, a number of things can happen. If for instance, bail is determined in your case and you post the bail, then you are released based on the promise that you will turn up in court during the arraignment. In such a case, the district attorney will inform you when you need to come to court for the arraignment. If you have questions at this point in time, it’s best to clear these with your San Diego criminal defense lawyer.

Your prosecutor must press charges against you within a period of 48 hours, after the arrest. However, if the prosecutor decides not to file charges against you, then you are released immediately.

If charges are pressed against you, you will find out at an arraignment. An arraignment is your very first court appearance after the arrest. This is an important step in the judicial proceedings against you. In court, the judge will inform you about the charges that have been filed against you, and will also inform you about your constitutional rights under the law. By this time, you must already have hired a San Diego criminal defense attorney. An arraignment is also when you will enter a plea. You can plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest.

This is exactly why it’s very important to get in touch with a San Diego criminal defense lawyer as soon as you arrested. A lawyer will be able to take steps to negotiate with prosecutors to get charges against you either dropped or lowered. That will make a significant impact in your case, and could even mean that you are released immediately if charges are dropped.

What Is A Trial?

If you have been arrested, and charged with a criminal offense, then you have the right to a trial. During the trial, a judge or a jury will decide your innocence or guilt. You may decide that you want a test by a court in which a judge will decide on your case. You could also decide to have a test by jury in which a jury of your peers will be able to decide in your case.

Remember, you need to first decide which of these options you want to choose. Discuss with your San Diego criminal defense lawyer if you want to have a jury trial by your peers, or a court trial. Depending on your case, your Diego Jose criminal defense lawyer may decide that a jury test by some of your peers is much more likely to result in justice for you, than a court trial. In such cases, you may choose to have a jury trial. In other cases, your attorney may decide to go ahead with a court trial.

If you decide to have a test by jury, then a jury will have to be selected in your case. The jury will be selected by a team that includes your attorneys, and who will ask potential jurors a number of questions in order to eliminate users who may already have some bias against cases like yours. Potential jurors who already have knowledge about your case, or have some kind of mental bias against you, must be eliminated from the screening process. Remember, selection of the jury is an extremely complex task and a critical part of your case.

When you stand for trial, you’re automatically presumed to be innocent until you either plead guilty before the trial, or until you are convicted by the court or by the jury. In a trial, the burden of proof is on the prosecutor to prove that you are guilty, and he must provide enough evidence to prove your guilt beyond doubt.

Civil vs. Criminal Cases

Our legal system is comprised of two very different types of cases, Criminal and Civil.  Crimes are generally offenses against the state, and are accordingly prosecuted by the state.  Civil cases on the other hand, are typically disputes between individuals concerning the legal duties and responsibilities they owe one another.

The Basic Difference: 

Criminal Case: The State (Government) files a process to punish someone, known as the defendant, for committing a crime.  If the defendant is found guilty of a crime, they may be sentenced to jail or prison. Even though the crime may be committed by one person against another, it is considered as an offense to society as a whole, thereby the state is involved in the prosecution.

Civil Case: An individual or a business sues another person or business because of a disagreement between them, usually involving money. The state does not get involved and the wronged party files the suit on their own behalf.  If someone loses a civil process, they may be ordered to pay the other side money or give up property.  They will not go to jail for losing the case.

Other key differences between a criminal process and a civil process:

  • In a Criminal Case the government must prove the defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt”.  In a Civil Case   the plaintiff must prove his or her case by a “preponderance of the evidence” (more than 50 percent). The plaintiff’s side of the process needs to be slightly more convincing than the other  side.
  • In a criminal case, if the defendant cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint an attorney without cost. In a civil process, if a party cannot afford a lawyer, they have to represent themselves.  There are no court appointed lawyers in a civil offenses cases.
  • Criminal cases almost always allow for a trial by jury.  Civil cases do allow juries in some instances, but many civil cases will be decided by a judge.
  • Because Criminal cases have greater consequences, there are protections in place, (e.g., the 5thAmendment to help you avoid self-incrimination; illegal search and seizure under the 4th amendment) Many of these well-known protections are not available to a defendant in a civil process.

When you need an experienced San Diego criminal defense lawyer, call the Law Offices of Elliott N. Kanter at 619-330-5881 or simply fill out or secure mailing form for a quick reply.  You initial consultation is at no cost, and there is no obligation.  We are here to help you with all your legal questions.  Don’t hesitate to call.

Remember, the time to get in touch with a San Diego criminal defense attorney is not after charges have been filed, but as soon as you are arrested.