BloomLegalTV: Criminal Procedure 101

Posted on Dec 23, 2013 in Bloom Legal TV

Good afternoon. This is Seth Bloom from Bloom Legal. Thanks for joining us again for another one of our video blog additions. I wish we were doing one every week, but maybe one of these days we will. Today I wanted to go over what I’m going to call “Criminal Procedure 101”.

People call me all the time as a criminal defense lawyer when they get in trouble, and they don’t really understand the process. So today I’m going to talk a little bit about arraignments and what an arraignment is, and when is it timely.

Let’s start over. When someone gets arrested that means there was a probable cause to arrest you. For instance, if you were pulled over for a DWI or pulled over and they smelled marijuana in your vehicle and they arrested you. That’s basically the police officer is arresting you and saying there’s probable cause to arrest you for a various criminal violation. It is not an indictment of you.

What happens at the next process is the District Attorney, it’s different from parish to parish. It’s different if it’s a city charge, and it’s different all over the country. But for the most part, there’s someone in the District Attorney’s Office in the state of Louisiana, in Orleans Parish, for instance, we use.

The District Attorney basically takes a look at this case, looks at the police report, looks at the evidence, looks at witness statements and says, “Hey, can I make this case? Can I prosecute this case?” They don’t say, “Is this 100 percent a slam dunk?” They say, “Is there enough probable cause here to charge the person or indict the person?” At this point, this is usually called the screening process, especially in Orleans and Jefferson Parish.

At that point that District Attorney would sit there and say, “I believe we can make a case against Mr. Jones for DUI or DWI.” In that case, they will then file a Bill of Information. This is the indicting document. At that point, you’re not only charged with the crime, from the arrest, you were charged with DUI or you were charged with marijuana, but now you’ve actually been indicted or a Bill of Information has been filed and from that point on you are actually indicted or charged with the crime.

The next step from that would be the arraignment. People often ask, “What happens at arraignment?” Well, this is your first opportunity to come in front of the judge and enter your plea. In almost all cases, whether or not the person is innocent or guilty, you want to preserve your rights to utilize all the resources of the criminal justice system, and you always for the most part enter a “not guilty”.

At that point then, there’s usually, depending on the type of case, motion hearings, eventually pretrial settings, and then obviously there will be trial settings. So it’s really important just to do a recap of that. The first thing is you’re arrested. You’re arrested by police officers. That doesn’t mean you’re charged with a crime.

The second part is a screener. At most, misdemeanor and felony cases will decide to file a Bill of Information. On more complicated and serious cases there would actually be a grand jury to indict you. But for the most of what we’re talking about, DWIs, possession charges, this would be screened by the District Attorney. They would file the Bill of Information, and then you would be indicted for that, and that’s when the arraignment would be set up.

At the arraignment you would go in there with your attorney, and you’d enter a plea of “not guilty”. And then the fun gets started. My name is Seth Bloom and this has been another addition of one of our video blogs. If you have specific questions about criminal procedure or a criminal case you or one of your friends or family has, give me a call today. It’s 504-599-9997.

We’re down here in the Warehouse District in New Orleans at 700 Camp Street, New Orleans 70130. Thanks a lot. Bye-bye.

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