The Stages of a Criminal Case

I have had the chance to be involved in nearly all aspects of a criminal case. The purpose of this article is to help you, your family, and your friends understand what will happen in a criminal case.

I. The Arrest / Investigation

Most of our clients have already gone through this process by the time they speak with me. This is the evidence gathering phase, where the police are trying to find the evidence that you committed a crime. It is vitally important to your defense that you do not speak with the police officers or any other agent of the government without first speaking with a criminal attorney about your case.

II. The Charges

Once the police have decided that they are going to arrest you, they will charge you with whatever felony or misdemeanor they believe that you have committed. Many times they will only charge you with one or two things and then turn it over to a prosecutor for the rest. The prosecutor will then take a look at all of the evidence and in cases of a misdemeanor they will approve the charges, add additional charges, or dismiss the charges. The last one is very unlikely.

III. The Grand Jury

In the case of felonies the prosecutor only has input in the charges, the prosecutor must take the evidence to a Grand Jury. The Grand Jury will, if it believes you may have committed a crime, issue an indictment for all of the felonies that they believe evidence exists to show that you committed a certain act. In some, very rare, cases the Grand Jury will issue a “No Bill” indictment meaning that they do not believe probable cause exists, however this is VERY rare.

IV. The Arraignment

After you have been indicted you will be summoned to an arraignment. At this point you should definitely consult with an attorney. At this stage you will be given the choice between entering a plea of “Guilty”, “Not Guilty”, or “No Contest”. In general it is in your best interests to consult with an attorney, if you have not yet you should probably consider what happens if you plea guilty vs not guilty. If you plea guilty you will be convicted of all the charges against you – the judge will not throw cases out (despite what non-lawyers might say). If you plea not-guilty your case continues.

V. The Pre-Trials Through Trial

After you have hired a defense attorney your attorney will prepare for trial by demanding discovery, or the evidence, that the State of Ohio has. This means he will obtain police reports, statements, videos, DNA, or whatever other evidence that the State might have. Also, he will begin preparing your defense by speaking to your witnesses, examining your evidence and advising you of the status of your case. In felony cases it is common to have multiple pretrial hearings before a trial, or suppression hearing is set. Be patient, it is a long process.

How We Handle Criminal Law Cases

I am often asked how I handle the defense of a certain type of case by nervous clients, or parents and family of the client. The simple truth is that both my partner and I, as former prosecutors, know that each and every case is different and on top of that – every client is different. This means that we do not have a cookie cutter type approach to criminal defense. We feel that it belittles the seriousness of your case, and might result in an important detail being overlooked.

Criminal defense starts with you, the client!

You are reading this, and that is a good start. Even if we do not take your case on, you need to speak to an attorney right away. Do not speak with the police without first consulting an attorney about the specifics of your case. Do not post something on Facebook, or any other social media site, talking about your case. Candid communication between you and your attorney is the most important start you can make in regards to your case. At Patituce & Associates, we do not judge you based on what you might have done, or what you tell us about your case – our job is to defend you.

The second step is determining what your goals are.

Every client is different – some clients do not want to fight a protracted fight all the way through a trial. Others want us to fight because they might have a job that they will lose if they are convicted of a felony, or other crime. And still other clients have no choice but to fight because the result could be life in prison, or other penalties that give them no choice. Fortunately for our client’s we understand this and have been there with them before – we determine what you want to have happen and act accordingly.

If you have been arrested, charged, or are under indictment in Cleveland, I would be more than glad to speak to you about your case. Call today for your free consultation.