Being charged with a crime is frightening. There can be fear and anxiety dealing with the unknown. Ms. Ramirez will meet with you and explain to you what you can expect during the legal process, and what your rights and options are. It is important that you have an aggressive and competent attorney who will defend your rights. The Law Office of Sonia Monique Ramirez, P.L.L.C., is dedicated to assisting you through this difficult time. Call today for a FREE consultation.
The consequences of entering into a plea agreement or being found guilty of a crime can be severe depending on a number of factors. These severe consequences can include losing many fundamental rights. It is important that you discuss your rights with an attorney as soon as possible. You or your loved one is innocent until proven guilty.
The State has the burden of proof and must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the offense that you are accused of. It is extremely important you understand what the consequences are of being found guilty. You need an attorney who will be detailed in reviewing law enforcement’s investigation, the process in which you were interviewed and/or evidence collected, and determining what areas of the investigation to challenge. You have many fundamental rights that protect you during this process; you need to make sure those rights were not violated.
WHAT IS AN INITIAL APPEARANCE?
The initial appearance is your first appearance before the court, and the beginning of the justice legal process. At the initial appearance you will be advised of what crime(s) you are charged with, conditions of release, and when and where your next court will be.
WHAT IS A PRELIMINARY HEARING?
The purpose of the preliminary hearing is to determine if it is probable that a crime was committed and if you are the individual who committed the crime. This hearing is held in justice court and the judge will make the finding based on probable cause. This threshold standard is substantially lower compared to the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is required to convict someone of a crime.
The Preliminary hearing may or may not be held depending on a few things. First, you may choose not to have one, or for one reason or another, the State did not file charges against you, or the State has decided to send the case to the Grand Jury.
WHAT IS THE GRAND JURY?
The Grand Jury is a panel of people who determine if it is probable that a crime was committed by you. The State, with the assistance of law enforcement, presents the case to the Grand Jury. If the Grand Jury determines that the probability exists, then the Grand Jury returns what is called a “true bill.” The defendant is then indicted on the charges.
There is a possibility to challenge the Grand Jury proceeding once the transcript is received. This process is called a Remand. A Remand is time sensitive and must fit specific criteria.
WHAT IS AN ARRAIGNMENT?
At the arraignment you will be advised of the charges filed against you. It is also the time you will enter a “Not Guilty” plea to all charges. The court will then advise of you of your next court hearing.
WHAT WILL BE MY SENTENCE?
There is no direct answer to this question. If you are found guilty of a crime the sentence depends on many factors, including but not limited to: whether the crime is a felony or misdemeanor, the type of offense, the defendant’s criminal record and aggravating or mitigating factors. To have a better understanding of what you are facing you should consult with an attorney immediately.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN AN ATTORNEY?
You need someone who is competent, thorough, aggressive, and detailed. No two attorneys are alike. You should shop around for an attorney. You do no need to hire a criminal specialist. But the attorney you do hire must be knowledgeable, skillful, and capable of defending your case. Beware of attorneys who make promises or guarantees. First, it is unethical. Also, if someone does promise or guarantee an outcome beware of their intentions. It may be what they think you want to hear for the sole purpose of getting your money.