West Hartford Criminal Lawyer
Being formally accused of a crime and facing the serious potential repercussions of a conviction—possibly including years behind bars—can be one of the most stressful times in your life. A West Hartford criminal lawyer could help you handle your current situation as well as protect your future by invoking your rights and challenging the prosecutor’s case throughout the criminal justice process. With the legal representation of a knowledgeable defense attorney, you may be able to more effectively fight for your rights and pursue a positive resolution to your case.
Investigation and Arrest
All criminal cases begin with an investigation. These investigations can be very brief in straightforward cases like DUIs, or they may last for years when dealing with more complicated “white-collar” crimes. All investigations, however, involve police and law enforcement gathering evidence of a suspected crime.
Once police feel confident they have enough evidence that a crime was committed, they can proceed to make an arrest. Throughout these initial stages of the criminal justice process, a West Hartford criminal attorney could seek to enforce the rights guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment to ensure someone suspected of committing a crime is not mistreated.
Formal Arraignment and Bail
After the initial arrest, a judge or magistrate will inform a defendant of the charge they are facing at an arraignment hearing. At this point, the defendant can plead guilty and skip straight to sentencing, or plead not guilty and defend against the accusations. Alternatively, a defendant may elect to plead nolo contendere (no contest), which means they accept conviction on their charges without having to claim innocence or incriminate themselves with a guilty plea.
If a defendant pleads not guilty, the court will typically set bail. This is an amount of money the defendant must pay as collateral to allow their release from jail until they appear at their required court hearing(s), at which point they would receive their bail money back. Obtaining a reasonable bail amount can be critical for defendants who do not want to wait for their trial in jail.
Negotiations and Motion Practice
In between the arraignment and the trial is where a criminal defense lawyer in West Hartford does much of their most important work. By researching various aspects of the law and the alleged criminal incident, as well as any possible violations of a suspect’s rights, a defense attorney could file motions that exclude important evidence from court if it was illegally obtained. In some cases, there are also preliminary hearings and negotiations that can potentially produce plea deals for a defendant to consider.
From Trial Through Potential Appeals
If no plea deal is accepted, the case goes to trial, where the prosecution presents their case to the court and the defense argues in favor of the most positive outcome possible for the defendant. Depending on the court’s verdict, the defendant may be able to go home immediately after the trial, or their case may proceed to sentencing following a conviction.
During sentencing, the services of dedicated legal counsel may still be useful to a defendant, as they could represent the defendant’s best interests when the judge is deciding on how much punishment is warranted for the offense. Furthermore, in some cases the court may handle the case poorly or apply the wrong law to the situation. In these instances, an appeal may be worth pursuing to bring the case to a higher court.
Retain a West Hartford Criminal Lawyer to Protect Your Future
Speaking to a West Hartford criminal lawyer could be your best option if you were accused of committing a crime and are now facing criminal charges. Call today to schedule an initial consultation and start planning your defense.