Understanding The Criminal Justice System


If you are arrested for committing a crime, the first thing that you should do is to request for a criminal defence lawyer. Once you have asserted the right to counsel, the police authorities can no longer continue with their questioning without the presence of a lawyer. Even if the authorities have explained the reason for the arrest, the lawyer needs to hear the circumstances that led to your arrest.

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What to expect when you are accused of a crime

  • You may be arrested by the police at the scene of a crime if they catch you committing the crime or if the police officer has reasonable grounds that you committed the crime or about to commit a crime. There are instances when a police officer has to procure a warrant of arrest for these purposes.
  • If you are arrested, the police can keep you in custody for a maximum of 24 hours until charges have been filed. While detained, you have the right to remain silent. If the police officer does not respect this right, whatever evidences they have gathered during detention cannot be used in court.
  • During the bail hearing, the judge will decide whether or not you have to be kept in custody until the trial. It is important to have a criminal defence lawyer during your first appearance in court including the bail hearing.
  • The judge may decide to keep you in custody until the trial to ensure that you will show up during the trial proceedings, for public protection and safety and to maintain confidence during the administration of justice.
  • The judge may decide to have you released from custody after obtaining bail. There are certain conditions included in a bail order like reporting to a bail supervisor, not being allowed to leave town or go to certain places like the victim’s home or workplace and not carrying a weapon.
  • The judge will also require a surety or a person who will be responsible in ensuring that the bail conditions are being followed and your attendance in court.
  • If you are required to appear in court, a summons will be sent with the date, time and location of your appearance. If you do not go to court as required in the summons, a warrant of arrest may be issued.
  • There are several pre-trial appearances before you go to trial. You can plead guilty to committing the crime so that the case won’t go to trial. However, it is critical to discuss with your lawyer whether a guilty plea is the best decision. Pleading guilty usually results to a lighter sentence. Your lawyer will explain the consequences of guilty plea and the rights that you are giving up.

Don’t hesitate to call a criminal defence lawyer when you are accused of a crime because you can be convicted due to a false confession. Your lawyer will take all the necessary steps to ensure that all your legal rights are protected like your right to remain silent without legal representation and not be a witness against yourself.