If you are the defendant in a criminal case, your journey from arrest to an initial appearance in court can seem tortuous. If you have been arrested, you understand how traumatic the experience can be and how important it is to be represented by a knowledgeable and experienced Fort Worth criminal defense attorney.
Most criminal cases begin with:
- An arrest.
- The filing of a complaint or other charging document.
- An initial appearance before a member of the judiciary (such as a judge, magistrate, district justice, or justice of the peace).
The arrest usually comes without warning. Many defendants are unlikely to be represented by a criminal defense attorney at the time of the arrest. However, if there has been a lengthy investigation going on (common in white collar and vehicular homicide cases, among others) the defendant may already have hired a Fort Worth criminal defense attorney before the arrest happens.
Arrest procedures can vary depending on the locale and the arresting agency, but most criminal cases follow a fairly similar pattern. From the place where you are arrested, you are transported to the local precinct or stationhouse. You are “booked” either at that location or at some central holding facility.
“Booking” involves steps to identify you and record the arrest, such as photographing and fingerprinting, asking you pedigree questions and searching databases for your criminal record. Pedigree questioning gathers information about your identity, residence, nationality and immigration status, health, employment and associates. During this time, either the arresting officer or a prosecutor will draft the charging documents.
Unless the police release you on bail or with a summons, they will take you to the courthouse. At the courthouse a bail agency, which operates as an arm of the court, may interview you and assess whether you have sufficient community ties to recommend release. If you were arrested for a minor offense, the police have discretion to issue a citation, summons or appearance ticket, instead of putting you through the full arrest and booking process.