Many people do not understand how the criminal justice system works. Although you might have seen TV shows or movies about someone committing a crime, these shows are usually skewed and do not show the whole process completely. Instead, it usually takes more time than you think. Here are a couple things that you need to know.
1. You Can Be Arrested and Not Be Charged
Each jurisdiction and state has different rules by which they can arrest someone. In general, you can be arrested if the police have probable cause that you committed a felony, if they saw you commit a misdemeanor, or if there is a warrant out for your arrest. This doesn't mean that you actually have to be charged.
When you are arrested, they will take you to a holding cell. There will be other people in this holding cell. Still there is no charge and nothing on your record. While they hold you, they only have a certain amount of time to keep you without charging you. They have to have some sort of evidence to charge you; otherwise they have to let you go.
2. Only After You Have Been Charged Are You Fingerprinted and Booked
Once they have actually charged you then they will go through the process of putting it on the record. At this point you will be fingerprinted, and booked into the jail. You will no longer be in a holding cell with other people, now you get your own, or semi-private cell. At this point you will have to stay in the prison until you are bailed out or sentenced.
3. There Will Be A Hearing
After you have been charged you will have a hearing where you get the chance to declare if you are guilty or not guilty. If you declare that you are not guilty, then there will be a trial. You will need to either hire a lawyer or have one appointed for you. You will start working on your defense and the trial will begin. This is also the time when the judge will set bail and you can either pay it and be released from prison, or not pay it and stay in prison until the trial.
If you plea no contest, or guilty, then the judge will either sentence you right there or they will give you a sentence at a later point in time. At this point you can still hire a lawyer if you would like. They can help to get you a better sentence.
By understanding these three principles, you can know what to expect if you are arrested. Talk to a professional for more information.