Once you have hired a lawyer, the attorney will notify the Court that you have a lawyer. This is done by filing an Entry of Appearance in your case, along with a demand for discovery (evidence) in the State’s possession. Filing this Entry and related documents notifies the State that we are handling the case, that you are our client, and that anything court-related needs to go through us.
When Can I Expect To Have A Court Date?
If you remain in jail after you are arrested, you should have a “72-hour” hearing, at which a magistrate judge will determine whether the warrants were legally valid and will set your bond if the charges allow bond to be set by a magistrate judge. If you are charged with a crime that is bondable only by a Superior Court judge then your attorney will need to file for a bond hearing. Understand that this initial hearing is NOT to determine your guilt or innocence, and you should make NO statements regarding your case, even denying your guilt. You have a right to remain silent. Use it.
If you bonded out of jail, the bond paperwork will indicate a future court date. Depending on the jurisdiction, at least you or your lawyer will need to appear on that date. If you have not yet hired an attorney then you should do so immediately.
What Can I Do To Help With My Legal Defense?
For our clients, our advice on assisting the defense is simple – be completely honest with us and be reachable. You can expect that your attorney will want you to provide contact information for any witnesses that may have been present at your arrest or at the event leading to your arrest. At The Roch Law Firm, everyone in our office is familiar with our clients’ cases, and we want our clients to be fully involved, too. If you retain us, you will be an active participant in your own defense.
Why Was I Formally Charged In An Indictment Or Accusation?
As in most states, this is merely part of the criminal process in Georgia. It is sometimes possible to resolve a case on the citation or warrants and there are some occasions when it is beneficial to the client to resolve the matter prior to formal indictment.
Though there are exceptions, as a general rule all felony cases are presented to the Grand Jury on a document called an Indictment. Misdemeanor offenses proceed on a document signed by the misdemeanor prosecutor’s office called an Accusation. Accusations are not presented to a Grand Jury.
With very few exceptions involving defendants who are police officers, a defendant has no right to testify before the Grand Jury and isn’t even given notice of when their case is to be presented to the Grand Jury. Despite its name, the “Grand” jury does not decide guilt nor innocence but instead is a process through which the Grand Jury decides whether there is “probable cause” to permit the State to file formal charges against the defendant. All of the evidence the Grand Jury typically hears is hand-picked by the prosecution and it’s easy to understand why prosecutors joke they can “indict a ham sandwich”.
What Is The Difference Between An Indictment And An Accusation?
An Indictment is a formal charge on a felony. An Accusation is a formal charge on a misdemeanor and some theft and drug felonies that the law allows to be prosecuted by Accusation.
What Happens After I’ve Been Formally Charged With A Crime?
After indictment or accusation, you can expect to be given a formal arraignment date. It is essential that you keep your attorney informed of any changes in your contact information within 24 hours of the change. Arraignment is a court appearance where you will enter your formal plea of “guilty” or “not guilty.” Depending on the local court rules, your attorney may be able to appear for you at arraignment and enter your plea of “not guilty”.
Also after indictment or accusation, the discovery in your case will be made available to your attorney. In felony cases, your attorney has to “opt in,” that is ask, for discovery and by doing so, agree to provide certain discovery to the State. That are some situations where, after consultation, your attorney decides not to “opt in” to discovery but those instances are fairly rare. “Discovery” is the evidence that the State intends to use against you; it may consist of incident reports, 911 call audio, police video, copies of any interviews you had with law enforcement, etc.
At Federal Lawyer Guy, we provide our client with a copy of this discovery (for obvious reasons, clients in jail cannot receive a copy of video or audio materials). We then ask the client to review the discovery and make an appointment to discuss it with us. At this point, we are in a good position to begin our full defense of you.