If you are under investigation or charged with a crime whether it is a felony or a misdemeanor you need representation by an excellent lawyer right away. Delay usually is very damaging to the client. The criminal process is complicated. You need a trained, experienced lawyer to help you.

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You may be arrested for an alleged violation of civil or criminal law. A criminal arrest is most often accomplished by presenting an arrest warrant but any one can exercise their right to make a "citizen's arrest" without a warrant if they witness you committing an alleged felony. Please note that you have the right to immediate counsel regardless of the circumstances surrounding your arrest.

If you have been accused of committing a serious offense you may be eligible to be released from custody while you await your trial. The court has the power to decide whether or not you are entitled to bail and you do not have the absolute right to bail. However, the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States does provide that "excessive bail shall not be required".

If you qualify for bail, the court will place a monetary value on your freedom. You may pay the ordered amount in cash, or by signing over the title to any property you have, or by using the services of a Bail Bonds company. A Bail Bonds company is like an insurance company because they require a cash premium from you (approximately 10% of the total amount of your bail). They rely on you to comply with the court's instructions and, if you don't, they have the authority to apprehend you, return you to jail, and keep your money.

Evidence presented in court must be directly related to your charge. The rules governing evidence (Common Law, the basis of our judicial system) began in Britain during the 16th century. Even though the rules regarding evidence have been modified to reflect modern times, they are still extremely complicated. In short: the prosecution must establish that the evidence presented pertains specifically to the charges against you, each juror must prove neutrality, each juror must swear to being unbiased, and must advise the court of any immediate knowledge of the dispute.

A major crime is a felony. Generally a major crime is any crime that is punishable by death or more than one year in prison. Felonies are usually tried by juries, and in some states, you must first be indicted by a grand jury. Other consequences of being convicted of a felony include loss of citizenship rights, deportation if you are an alien and more severe sentencing for future offenses.

An indictment is a formal written accusation naming specific persons and crimes. An indictment may be issued by a grand jury if they determine that the evidence presented to them is sufficient to support the charges brought against you.
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution safeguards your right to a preliminary hearing by a grand jury in major federal cases. The U.S. Constitution stipulates that no person may be tried in a federal court for a serious offense without a formal indictment, but beware that less than 50% of the states honor your constitutional right to a preliminary hearing. Make sure that your attorney insists on your Fifth Amendment rights.

A minor crime that usually carries a fine and/or a sentence of less than one year in prison is called a misdemeanor. Being convicted of a misdemeanor does not cancel citizenship or subject aliens to deportation.

You may be released from prison before you have served your complete sentence on the condition that you agree to restricted activities and agree to report to an officer on a regular basis. If you violate the terms of your early release you may be returned to prison.

A search warrant is a written order by an official of a court authorizing an officer to search a specific place for specific objects and to seize them if found. Your Fourth Amendment rights guarantee that a search warrant may only be issued on oath or affirmation that a crime was probably committed. The U.S. Supreme Court does not recognize evidence presented if it was obtained without a proper search warrant.

A sentence is the punishment that a court orders if you are convicted by a judge or jury or both. Sentences usually consist of fines, imprisonment or a combination of both. The court will impose a sentence including prison for more serious crimes and usually a fine only for misdemeanors. . In many states Many states will impose longer sentences if have recurring felony convictions. In this case, a "three-strike" law could apply which carries a mandatory long-term sentence or life imprisonment.

A warrant is a written order usually issued by a judge or court clerk and given to a law enforcement agency (sheriff, marshal, local officer of the peace and constable). The most common types are search warrants and arrest warrants.