Indiana Criminal Defense Lawyer
Being charged with a crime is one of the most serious matters any of us can face. Even persons who have gone through the criminal
justice system before can find the charges, the various motions and procedures and the various court appearances to be confusing and
sometimes frightening. For a person facing the system for the first time, the situation may at times seem overwhelming. It
is important to know what to expect as your case moves forward. The following is a basic overview of some of the steps that
can occur in a criminal case in
When a person is charged with a criminal offense in
In most cases a preliminary plea of not guilty is entered on your behalf at the initial hearing. Some courts will permit a defendant to plead guilty at his or her initial hearing. However, it is not generally advisable to do so, since you may not yet have an attorney to advise you and even if you do, the attorney will not have been able to properly evaluate the case. You may be concerned that entering a "not guilty" plea will be used against you later or make you look somehow dishonest if you should choose later to admit your guilt and plead guilty. This is not the case. Entering a not guilty plea will not affect one's ability to later plead guilty should that become necessary. It is almost always in your best interest to enter a not guilty plea at the initial hearing and allow time for the charges and the evidence to be evaluated. In many instances an initial hearing on a misdemeanor charge can be waived if the defendant is not in custody and his attorney has filed a written waiver of the initial hearing. If a waiver is granted the defendant will not have to appear for an initial hearing and additional court dates will be scheduled and the dates provided to you and your attorney.
Once your attorney enters an appearance on your behalf, he or she will request from the
prosecutor a list of witnesses, copies of any and all police reports, statements from any alleged victims and witnesses, and any physical
evidence that the State intends to use against you. This evidence is known as "Discovery".
In addition to reviewing the discovery provided by the State, many cases require that additional evidence be gathered that will assist with the defense of your case. This can include locating and interviewing potential witnesses, taking photographs, gathering potential evidence and submitting evidence to experts for evaluation and testing.
In some cases, a good defense is not based upon what the State can prove at trial, but instead, is based upon determining what evidence will be admissible at trial. For example, in some cases evidence that was obtained through an illegal search can be suppressed; that is, not allowed to be used in court against you. It may also be to your advantage to have your trial separated from a co-defendant or to ask for a change of venue if circumstances make finding an impartial jury difficult. These matters are addressed through the filing of pre-trial motions. An experienced criminal defense attorney knows when it is approriate to file pre-trial motions and will fight to insure that your Constitutional Rights are protected and that you are treated fairly.
In some cases a defendant's best course of action is to negotiate an agreement to plead guilty to the charge, or to some lesser charge. The circumstances may be such that it is not in your best interest to go to trial. It is important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer that can explain the case to you and explain your options. An experienced lawyer can also negotiate on your behalf with the prosecutor, putting you in a position to have the best possible outcome.
Although not every case goes to trial, a good criminal defense lawyer should prepare for a trial in every case. Some trials can be presented to the judge to decide. This is called a "bench trial". Others are presented before a jury. This is the part of a criminal case that most of us think about when we think of criminal law. You should have a criminal defense attorney with extensive jury trial experience that is able and ready to defend your case at trial when necessary.
Even after trial and sentencing, your attorney's job may not be done. If you are convicted after a trial, you have the right to appeal. That is, you may have your case reviewed by a higher court. Successful appeals in criminal cases are not common. When they are successful, however, you may be entitled to a new trial, or you may be set free.
Sometimes, despite an attorney's best efforts, charges can result in convictions. Your attorney's job is not done, however. He or she will aggressively argue for a sentence that can be substantially lower than the sentence the State requests. Your lawyer's efforts can result in a shorter term of incarceration, an alternative to incarceration such as work release or home detention or even a suspended sentence or probation in some cases.
If you or a loved one has been arrested it is important to get an experienced criminal defense lawyer working on your case and fight
for you as quickly as possible. Contact the experienced criminal defense law firm of Ross G. Thomas today. There is no charge
for initial consultations. The Law Office of Ross G. Thomas provides experienced legal representation to persons charged with
serious crimes in state and federal courts throughout