The Stages of the Criminal Process

Stage One – The Arrest

Whether you are immediately placed in handcuffs, or arrested after a lengthy investigation that ends in an arrest warrant, the arrest itself is the first stage of the criminal process. There has never been a situation where an individual has been able to talk their way out of being arrested. Your time to defend yourself is not while the officer is placing you in handcuffs or while you are being driven to the jail. If you are talking to an officer about your arrest, you will either (a) confess or (b) lie, both of which will hurt your case tremendously. You have the right to remain silent. Use it. Even if you have not hired an attorney, you have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. Enforce it. Thompson Law is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to help you in this situation. Call us toll free at (386) 280-4977 before you speak to anyone.

The time to argue your case is through the voice of your attorney. Officers will lead you to believe that if you tell them the “truth” about what happened, that they will consider letting you go, or give a good word to the State Attorney’s Office. Officers are legally allowed to lie during interrogations. They tell you this because it is their job to obtain valuable information from you to secure a conviction against you. You can remain silent and polite at the same time. You have a constitutional right to remain silent that no officer can legally use against you. Invoke your right and let your attorney fight the case for you. Attorney Matt Thompson has worked through criminal investigations and arrests for over 10 years in Volusia County. He knows the ropes, the pitfalls, and the tactics officers use to build their case. Talk to Matt Thompson before you speak to anyone. Call us toll free at (386) 280-4977 before you speak to anyone.

Stage Two – Booking

Arrival to the jail is everything you would expect and more. You are stripped of your belongings, held in a cell while you are booked, an officer will take an incredibly embarrassing photograph of you and post it on the internet, and you will be herded like cattle with everyone else who was arrested that same day.

There are a few points during the process you should be aware of. First, if you are in possession of any illegal contraband that the officer did not find during the initial search, it is better to let them know before they find it at the jail. The moment you enter the jail with any illegal substance, the officer will add an additional felony to your list of charges.

In addition, refrain from doing anything that is noticeable to law enforcement while in jail. While you may be incredibly frustrated, or if you feel that your rights have been trampled on by the police, your time in the jail is not the time to let out your frustrations. Remain quiet, remain polite, and stay under the radar. Do not give the officer any additional information to write about in the police report. You will be set for a jail arraignment within the next 24 to 36 hours, or you will be able to bond out before seeing a judge if you can afford it.

Booking can be frustrating, embarrassing, and lengthy. It is best to seek the advice of an attorney before making any rash decisions. Thompson Law remains available to speak to you to explain this process in more detail as it is happening. Call us at (386) 280-4977 to represent you, your child, or your loved one if they are arrested for a crime.

Stage Three – First Appearances

In most circumstances, first appearances will be set before a judge within twenty-four hours after your arrest. This is a very crucial stage of the criminal process. In Volusia County, there will be a judge present, a prosecutor, and a public defender. Some surrounding jurisdictions conduct First Appearances over closed-circuit television. In any situation, you have a right to have an attorney present with you at first appearances. Thompson Law appears on behalf of its clients at these hearings to ensure the best possible representation at every stage of the process.

At first appearances, the Judge will determine whether there is probable cause for your arrest, whether you should be released on your own recognizance, or whether a bond should be set and the amount of the bond. Having an attorney at this hearing can be very advantageous. Matt Thompson represented a client who was arrested for more than 15 counts of aggravated assault with a firearm. After reviewing the police report he noticed that there was insufficient probable cause to hold him on the aggravated assault charges. The client was released from jail after posting a very minimal bond and was able to participate in his defense in the comfort of the Thompson Law office as opposed to a jail cell. Matt Thompson has appeared for hundreds of first appearance cases and can assist you. In addition, if money is a concern for hiring an attorney, Matt Thompson may be able to get your bond reduced or even convince a judge to release you on your own recognizance.

If you have been arrested on a warrant, you may not be entitled to having your bond lowered at first appearances. If you are arrested on a Violation of Probation, you are not entitled to a bond and may be held in jail throughout the pendency of your case. If you find yourself or a loved one in any of these situations, you need a lawyer sooner rather than later, please contact Attorney Matt Thompson to discuss your options before going into first appearances. (386) 280-4977.

Stage Four – Intake or Grand Jury

After going before the Judge at the jail, your case is set for an arraignment and set on a judge’s docket. The time between your arrest and your arraignment can vary, but it is typically set within thirty days for felonies and within ten (10) days for a violation of probation. This is the most crucial stage of your defense. At this stage, the State Attorney can summon a grand jury to hear evidence and file an indictment. The more common practice, however, is a prosecutor will be assigned to review your case and file formal charges against you by filing what is called an “Information.” Without an attorney to represent you, you do not have the ability to speak to a prosecutor before charges are filed. Thompson Law makes it a priority to meet with the State before charges are filed. Once charges are filed, they are harder to get dismissed. Thompson Law works to try to stop the train before it gets on the tracks. Attorney Matt Thompson proactively defends your case through the intake stage to give you the best starting position possible. Letting a case sit does not make your position any better, and often times, it makes it worse. Contact Thompson Law at (386) 280-4977 to speak to Matt Thompson about his strategy in defending his client’s cases during the intake stage.

Stage Five – Discovery

In the State of Florida, the State is required to provide you with all of the evidence they have against you, whether it hurts, or helps, your case. You and your attorney have the right to know and review the evidence from the State before trial, speak to the State’s witnesses, and conduct reciprocal discovery. In Volusia County, the State Attorney’s Office provides your attorney with discovery via email. Thompson Law prepares a discovery packet for you with every piece of evidence the State provides. It is Attorney Matt Thompson’s view that you should be an active participant in the discovery review process. You were the person present when everything happened, so your prospective is crucial in defending your case.

Matt Thompson only accepts ten (10) cases per month to enable him the time to meet with his clients to ensure they understand the discovery the State has provided. When you schedule an appointment to meet with your attorney, you meet with your attorney, not a paralegal or an assistant. You will ask questions, review your case, and discuss your defense directly with Matt Thompson.

From your very first meeting with Matt Thompson, Thompson Law works diligently to begin to compile evidence, speaking to potential witnesses, and prepares your defense. While some of the information we collect may not end up being useful, our philosophy is to leave no stone unturned. This is why Matt Thompson provides you with his cell phone number so that you can actively participate with your defense. Getting started on your case sooner is better. Call today to schedule a consultation at (386) 280-4977.

Stage Six – Pretrial Motions and Docket Calls

In every jurisdiction, the judge assigned to your case sets some type of docket call to get an update from the attorneys as to the progress of your case. In Volusia County, these docket calls are called pretrial conferences. Attorney Matt Thompson appears at those pretrial conferences on your behalf so that you do not need to take time out of your day or time off of work to appear in court. The pretrial conferences are used to update the judge and schedule motions that the attorney may want to file to assist you in your defense. Matt Thompson has had the unique experience to argue a wide range of motions in a number of different cases such as DUI, domestic violence cases, sexual assault cases, burglary and homicide cases. Thompson Law employs a strategy for filing such motions to gain an advantage for our clients in their cases. During your meetings with Attorney Matt Thompson, you will discuss the potential benefits and negatives for filing the motions. In addition, Matt Thompson provides you with copies of the motions and discusses the legal issues with you so you know exactly what is going on with your case.

Thompson Law ensure that each of its clients are kept up to date on their case by updating you before and after court dates. Matt Thompson is always available by telephone to speak to your attorney or schedule a meeting. Please call today to set up an initial free case consultation with Attorney Matt Thompson at (386) 280-4977.

Stage Seven – Trial

Not every case should go to trial, but having an attorney with the ability to go to trial is very important. Attorney Matt Thompson has handled over fifty trials that include an array of criminal charges ranging from homicide to trespass. Before taking a case to trial, you should speak to an attorney who has been there, who has seen the case through from beginning to end, an attorney who can discuss with you the potential risks and rewards for taking your case to trial.

Attorney Matt Thompson does not wait until trial is set to begin defending your case. Thompson Law defends your case to obtain the best result possible. If trial is set, Matt Thompson will use the skills he has honed over 10 years of practice in criminal law to pick a jury that will listen to your defense. Matt Thompson will convey your message to the jury and will take all measures necessary to produce a winning argument on all legal matters during the trial. Attorney Matt Thompson will educate you on the process, educate you on the legalities of your defense, and work tirelessly to ensure that justice is served. Call today to discuss your case with Attorney Matt Thompson at (386) 280-4977.

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