Criminal Defense Process
Criminal defense processes are confusing, complicated and difficult. In a criminal proceeding, you need to know your legal rights, and whether you know those rights or not can play a large role in the outcome that you receive from the court. Having a criminal defense attorney in the United States such as the ones at the Iowa Law Group, can help to ensure your rights do not go ignored.
But if you have never been in a criminal proceeding before, especially one where you are the defendant, you may not know what to expect or what to do. That’s okay, we’re here to walk you through it.
Understanding that the two types of courts may have different timelines is important, because these timelines may affect how quickly your proceedings go.
The district courts process criminal cases and can be simplified in the following manner:
Superior courts have a slightly different timeline, because there are indictments by grand juries that can cause hearings in the district courts. The timeline is similar, but hearings and indictments can alter the timeline.
Elements of Criminal Cases
You might not know what the words in the simplified timeline up above mean. That’s alright, we’re assuming that you’ve never dealt with this before. As always, we suggest an attorney that’s focused on criminal defense, but it never hurts to learn about the process that you will be going through.
Stop: This means the law enforcement may stop any person for questioning as long as they have probable cause. Probable cause laws apply here. A stop is not an arrest, but the officer can ask you questions, though you can refuse to answer them. A person can be frisked during a stop, however the officer must believe the person has contraband or is otherwise dangerous and armed. In a pat down search the officer can only look through your pockets.
Search: Search warrants are court orders which allow the police to search for specific items, in a specific place. There must be probable cause to receive a search warrant. Probable cause means specific criminal activity and that certain items will be found if the place is searched.
In some instances, searches may be performed legally without a search warrant. These types of searches fall into a few categories:
– Consent searches mean that the individual allows for the officer to search themselves, their vehicle, or their residence. Consent is not required; you don’t have to consent to a search.
– Automobile searches, which is when someone is involved and arrested in an automobile, the police may also search the automobile for specific items. They would need access to the locked glove compartment, truck, etc. but for those areas they would need probable cause.
– Searches an incident to arrest, which is when law enforcement officers search someone’s body and clothing for hazardous or illegal items while they make a legal arrest.
– Plain view searches mean that something is in plain view of the officer, and the officer has the right to be in a position to view said object.
– Exigent circumstances mean that the search “may be done if exigent circumstances”, or circumstances that require immediate action, happen.