If you are facing a felony charge, it is a serious matter, and your life as you know it – and the future you look forward to – may hang in the balance. While the charge you face and your case is utterly unique to you and the circumstances involved, the most crucial first step anyone in your situation can take is consulting with an experienced Copperas Cove criminal defense attorney.
Upon Your Arrest
Upon your arrest for the felony charge in question, the arresting law enforcement agency will prepare a report that contains all of the following:
The time, date, and location of the crime you are alleged to have committed
Any physical evidence related to the case
Any witness statements
From here, the report will be forwarded to the district attorney’s office, and the DA will take the matter before a grand jury to help the state determine if you should be indicted – or if the state will decline to pursue the charges.
In the Interim
There may be several days – or even weeks – before the grand jury convenes to review your case. In the interim, a savvy criminal defense attorney will get to work presenting your side of the situation (in its most favorable light) to the state’s criminal prosecutor. The idea is to dissuade him or her from filing criminal charges in the first place – or to convince him or her to reduce the charges you face. These early negotiations can be important to the overall outcome of your case.
Without an Attorney on Your Side
If you do not have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side at this juncture, your report will proceed to the grand jury with nothing but witness statements to back it up. The fact is that you – as the defendant – do not have the right to testify before the grand jury, and your defense attorney will not attend the proceeding. This means the only window you have to address the prosecution is in the interim between arrest and the grand jury’s deliberations. In other words, the sooner you begin working closely with an experienced criminal defense attorney, the better off you are likely to be.
The Next Step
Once the grand jury has heard your case, it will hand down a response in the form of one of the following:
A true bill, which amounts to a felony indictment for the crime in question
A no bill, which means that the criminal charges involved will not be pursued
Very rarely, the grand jury chooses to lessen the felony charge to a misdemeanor, which would send your case in a different direction. If the grand jury does issue a true bill against you, your case will be assigned to a court, and it will move forward toward trial.