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After Getting Arrested

You should know what to expect after getting arrested.

There are few things in life as stressful and unsettling as getting arrested. It helps to know what to expect in the hours, weeks and months following your arrest.

To begin with, the police will handcuff you, probably with your hands behind your back. They do that for safety reasons and rarely, if ever, make exceptions. Then, they will search you. If you have any illegal items, and they miss them, those items likely will turn up in the second search at the jail. That could lead to additional charges of taking contraband into a jail.

The police will drive you to the county jail, where you will be photographed, fingerprinted, and possibly given a brief examination by a jail nurse. You will be searched again. This can include a cavity search. You will turn over your personal belongings, receive a receipt, and likely be issued a jumpsuit and slip-on shoes. From there, you will go to a holding cell.

Remember, do not talk to anyone in the jail about getting arrested or the specifics of your case. The guy in the cell with you might seem friendly enough - until he testifies against you. And that phone you're allowed to use? Careful what you say there, as well. Conversations with anyone other than an attorney are not protected, and can be recorded.

Booked into county jail

The booking process can take up to 12 hours after getting arrested and taken to jail. Once you are booked, you can post bond and be released for misdemeanors and most felonies. Depending on the charges, your bail can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. You will be allowed to call a bail bondsman, who will charge 10 percent of the bail as his fee. You may also have to put up some sort of collateral for large bonds.

If you cannot afford bail, you can ask a judge to lower the amount. California law requires that you be taken before a judge for arraignment within 48 hours of getting arrested. The judge will tell you the charges against you, and reconsider bail at that point.

A misdemeanor charge is one punishable by a small fine and up to one year in county jail. A felony is a more serious charge punishable by heavier fines, more than one year in state prison and the loss of certain rights, such as the right to own a gun or vote. The police may tell you the charges when you are getting arrested.

You, or your defense attorney, will enter a plea to the charges. From there, you will have a series of pre-trial hearings or case management conferences so that both sides can file motions and come to an agreement on a plea deal or trial date. In felony cases, there is a preliminary hearing in which prosecutors present evidence of the crime you allegedly committed. The judge will decide whether there is enough evidence to go forward.

Resolving your criminal case

The case will end one of three ways after getting arrested: The prosecution drops the charges, or the judge dismisses them; your defense attorney arranges a plea bargain, usually for lesser charges; or you go to trial (Preparing for Criminal Court ), and the jury issues a verdict.

If the case goes to trial, your defense attorney and the prosecution will pick a jury, then present opening arguments. The prosecution will present its case first. Your defense attorney cross-examine the state's witnesses to find any weaknesses in the evidence. Then, he will present your side of the case. You are not required to testify, and the judge will instruct the jurors that they cannot use that as evidence against you if you do not.

Once both sides have rested, the judge will instruct the jury on the relevant law, then the jury will go to another room to deliberate. The jury's decision must be unanimous and, in order to convict, the jurors must agree that the prosecution proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.

When the jury reaches a verdict, it will be presented in court. If you are acquitted, you can never be tried on those charges again. If you are convicted, you have a right to an appeal.


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