The process of criminal justice as having begun when a suspect is placed under arrest by a law enforcement officer. The arrest means that an individual has been taken into police custody and restrictions are placed on his or her free movement. An arrest does not necessarily have to involve the use of handcuffs or physical restraint.
As long as police authority is exercised over a person, and the person submits voluntarily or involuntarily to such authority, an arrest is said to have taken place. An arrested person may seek legal advice from a criminal defense attorney to defend his or her rights under the law.Probable Cause or Arrest Warrant
To affect an arrest, the police officer must have a probable cause, which is a reasonable belief, based on the circumstances and facts of the case, that an individual has committed or is likely to commit a crime. The probable cause can arise from different facts and circumstances surrounding a case. The other possibility, when an arrest becomes lawful, is when a valid warrant has been obtained by a police officer to arrest an individual.
A judge or a magistrate issues this legal document called the arrest warrant. This is done usually after the submission of a sworn statement from the police officer. Typically, an arrest warrant:
- Specifies the criminal act that has been committed.
- Identifies the suspect who may have committed the crime.
- Provides details of the location where the suspect may be found.
- Gives permission to a law enforcement officer to arrest the suspect identified in the warrant.
The preliminary stage of courtroom proceedings following the arrest and booking of a person charged with a crime is called arraignment. As part of a typical arraignment process, the individual charged with a crime is presented before a judge of a criminal court, who:
- Reads out the specific criminal charges made against the individual, who is now called a defendant.
- Asks whether the defendant already has a lawyer, or requires the help of a court-appointment lawyer.
- Asks whether the defendant pleads to criminal charges as not guilty, guilty, or no contest.
- Takes a decision on whether to release the defendant from custody at his or her own recognizance, or to change the bail amount.
- Announces the dates of future case proceedings such as the preliminary hearing and pre-trial motions.
If the criminal defendant is faced with a possibility of serving prison time in case of a conviction, he or she gets a constitutional right to receive legal assistance of a defense attorney. Alternatively, the defendant may be provided the services of a government-appointed defense counsel at no cost to him or her. Such an attorney is responsible for protecting the rights of the defendants at every stage of the criminal process.
William Moore Criminal Defense offer years of successful legal experience in Broward County. As former state prosecutors, our attorneys provide aggressive determination fueled by knowledge in the art of criminal defense.