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I’ve been charged with a crime in Arizona: Now what?

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There is a certain air of mystery, dread and helplessness that can accompany being charged with a crime in Arizona. While having a Certified Criminal Law Specialist in your corner like Todd Coolidge will certainly alleviate some of those feelings, it also helps to understand the process and your rights. The following is an rough outline of what happens when you are charged with a crime in Arizona.

Step 1: Find an Attorney

The first step is the most important step. Find an attorney, and find one fast. The earlier the better. In fact, it is possible to stop charges before they are filed, so if you even think that you are going to be charged with a crime, it is important to hire an attorney. This pre-litigation work can save you time, cash and a lot of grey hair.

Step 2: Appearance or Arraignment

If you are in fact charged with the crime, the process begins with the arraignment or appearance. This is where you will be read the charges you face, and told your release conditions. These conditions can be: bail, pretrial service release, release on your own recognizance or detention without bond.

Step 3: Pretrial Conference & Negotiation

Another important step, the purpose of this conference is to allow the defense and prosecution to meet and exchange evidence. This is when the evidence can be examined and both sides can negotiate and plea resolutions can be reached. If negotiations proceed and a deal is struck, you come to a plea bargain. If the plea bargain is accepted by the court, you will skip the trial straight to sentencing.

Step 4: Trial

The trial happens if negotiations fail during the pretrial conference. If you win your trial, your case is over and you are a free man or woman. If you lose, you go to sentencing without a plea agreement and will face the Arizona sentencing chart.

Step 5: Sentencing

During the sentencing hearing each side argues for what punishment they believe you should receive. This is where plea agreements can come in handy, as the court will generally follow the stipulations found in the plea agreement. If the agreement doesn’t lay out the exact punishment, there can be a serious of possible outcomes. IN that case, each side can a present their case as to why the sentence should be more lenient or more harsh.

If you are or believe you will soon be facing criminal charges, don’t wait. Contact Todd Coolidge today at 480-264-5111.

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (1/27/2016) fairshade2000(Flickr)

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