Of course, like all areas of law addressed
on this web site, criminal defense can be a very complicated
endeavor and facts and circumstances that are particular to
your situation can drastically change the legal advice that
That said, in general what happens when
you are arrested is you are either issued a summons to appear
in Court to defend the charges and allowed to go along your
way until the court date, or you are arrested on the spot
If you are actually arrested and incarcerated
on the spot, then you will have to have the ability to post
bond to be released pending further court proceedings.
As one might imagine, depending on the severity of the crime,
the bond can be set at either a low rate, high rate, or bond
can be refused altogether if the Court perceives the person
to be an extreme flight risk or a danger to the community.
That said, an attorney can greatly expedite the release of
someone who is incarcerated. Therefore, it is recommended
that the services of an attorney be retained immediately if
in fact you or someone you love has been incarcerated.
Regardless of whether or not you were
incarcerated, you will be given a court date for an arraignment.
The arraignment date is the first court appearance that will
take place (aside from a bond hearing if you are incarcerated),
and upon that date the State of Louisiana will, in open court,
announce formal charges against you for the crime that you
have allegedly committed. At that particular time it is customary
for the defendant either to plead guilty or not guilty to
those charges, and if the plea is not guilty then the Court
will set the matter for a status conference at a later date.
Once a plea of not guilty has been issued
at arraignment, certain time limits begin to run within which
the defendant must make inquiries regarding the Prosecution's
case. Again, due to the structure of the criminal code of
procedure and the requirement to comply with certain time
limits in order to protect your rights, it is very important
to retain the services of an attorney so as to make certain
all of your defenses are utilized.
Once the State answers all discovery
requests and the Prosecution's office has provided the defendant
with information as to what evidence they have of the crime,
then the attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor that has
been assigned to the case.
Often, during this period of time some
sort of arrangement can be agreed on between the prosecution
and the defense that would minimize the impact of the criminal
prosecution upon the defendant and perhaps allow the defendant
to go through pretrial intervention or some other diversionary
program to avoid criminal prosecution altogether and instead
perform community service or undertake some other sort of
acts such as paying fines, etc. in order to clear the criminal
If in fact no outcome can be arranged
that is acceptable, the case will have to be tried and the
State's burden of proof will be proving beyond a reasonable
doubt every element of each criminal offense that has been
levied against the accused.