Steps of the Criminal Process Part 1: Allegations, Investigation, and Arrest

Our San Bernardino criminal defense attorneys break down the criminal process. In part one of four in this series, we’ll take a look at allegations, investigation, and the arrest.

The criminal process can be complex, confusing, and sometimes convoluted, especially for those who have no prior experience with the justice system. Chung & Ignacio, LLP have broken down the steps of the criminal process from the arrest to conviction and sentencing.

Criminal Allegations

We’re going to start our journey through the criminal process with the allegations. In order for police to make an arrest, they must have probable cause that an offense was committed. In some cases, law enforcement observes the alleged crime directly. In other instances, they first receive report of a crime. If they receive a report of a crime, they will conduct an investigation in hopes of compiling enough evidence to support a warrant for arrest.

The Investigation

A criminal case will stop at the investigation phase if law enforcement cannot gather enough evidence to support an arrest. This is actually why some cases are eventually thrown out. For example, in some cases law enforcement makes arrests without establishing probable cause or obtaining a search warrant. Any evidence obtained after a wrongful search or arrest must be thrown out because it was obtained unlawfully.

The Arrest

If there is probable cause, police can make an arrest. An arrest does not mean a person is guilty, but at this point, anything an arrestee says can and probably will be used in court. You also have the right to an retain an attorney or have one appointed for you. In DUI cases, for example, you can be arrested but later released without being charged. This is because you can be arrested for suspicion of drunk driving, but after your arrest, a breath test could reveal that you are under the legal limit.

In our next blog in this series, we will take a look at booking, your initial appearance before a judge, and the preliminary hearings. Remember, if you’ve been arrested, you have the right to retain an attorney, so contact a San Bernardino criminal defense lawyer at our firm for a free case review!