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Criminal Defense

How Long after Arrest Do I Find Out What the Charges Are?

7 min read
Unbundled Legal Help

by Unbundled Legal Help

After an arrest, your first court appearance will typically take place within the next 48 hours. There, the court will inform you of the charges filed against you. What happens next depends on several factors.

Once you have been arrested for a crime, you should hear your charges fairly quickly. Typically, your first court appearance will be scheduled within 48 hours of your arrest. At your first court appearance, the court will present you with the charges against you. You will also learn about the conditions of your pre-trial release.

How your case progresses and how long it will take depends on several factors—the most important of these is the type of offense.

For instance, if you have committed an infraction (a minor offense), in most cases, you won’t have to appear in court at all. Infractions include a traffic ticket, noise violations, not keeping your pet on a leash, etc. 

You can often resolve an infraction via email, phone, or online. Typically, the infraction notice will let you know you can resolve it without a court appearance. 

If your arrest is for a misdemeanor or felony, the consequences will be more serious. You will likely want a lawyer to defend you in more serious cases. We can connect you with an unbundled criminal defense lawyer in your area to defend you at a reasonable cost.

Here are the three most common scenarios for what can happen after you are arrested for a misdemeanor or felony:

  • You may be charged and then released “on your own recognizance” (OR), also known as a personal recognizance. This means the authorities release you without the need to post bail, but you need to submit a written promise (known as “cite release”) that you will appear in court at a later date. 
  • You could be taken into custody, booked, and taken to jail. If you are eligible for bail, your bail will be set. If you can post your bail, they will release you from jail. You will need to appear in court at a specified later date. 
  • If they deem you ineligible for bail, or if you are unable to post bail, you will be booked into custody and will remain in jail until your court appearance.

How Long Will I Be in Custody before My Court Appearance?

The next step of the process is known as an arraignment. During the arraignment, you will need to appear before the judge for a formal reading of the criminal charges filed against you. 

Most jurisdictions require the defendant to have an arraignment “without unnecessary delay” and within 48 hours following their arrest (not counting Sundays and public holidays).

If you are eligible for bail and have posted bail, they will inform you in writing about your next court date at the time of your release. 

They set the court date depending on the court’s availability. Note that when you post bail, your court date will typically be set for later than if you would have remained in custody. 

If you remain in custody on a misdemeanor charge, your trial will typically be scheduled within 30 days following the date of your arraignment, depending on your jurisdiction. If you are not held in custody when awaiting trial, it may be set within 45 days following the arraignment, depending on the jurisdiction. 

If you face felony charges (criminal offenses punishable by a prison sentence of one year or longer), you will need to enter a plea during the arraignment. After your charges have been read to you, you will need to enter one of the following pleas:

  • Not guilty (not admitting that you have committed the offense)
  • Guilty (admitting that you have committed the offense)
  • Nolo contendere or no contest (you do not admit that you have committed the offense but accept the punishment)

In most felony cases, there will also be an intermediate stage in the criminal process known as a preliminary hearing.

During a preliminary hearing, the prosecutor will need to “convince” the judge that there is probable cause to suspect you of the crimes that you are being charged with.

Typically, a preliminary hearing will occur within 10 court days following your initial arraignment. You can waive your right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days, in which case it will be held within 60 days of your initial arraignment. 

If the judge decides there is probable cause that you have committed the offense you are charged with, you will need to answer to these charges. The prosecutor will then file the information, which is a formal criminal charge, on which you will be arraigned. The information typically needs to be filed within 15 days of the preliminary hearing.

What Is the Right to a Speedy Trial?

Under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution, a defendant in a criminal case has the right to a “speedy” trial. This means the defendant must be tried for the charges filed against them within a reasonable time after arrest.  

However, as there is no specific time period that constitutes “a speedy trial” under the Sixth Amendment, the actual time you need to wait for a trial depends on the specifics of your case and the jurisdiction where your case resides. In fact, some states ‌have laws in place that define the time period during which they must hold a trial after they have filed the charges. In some states, however, no such time periods exist, which makes the idea of a speedy trial more dependent on the nature of your case.

If your trial has been delayed for an unreasonable amount of time, the court has the power to dismiss your case altogether.

You also have the option to waive your right to a speedy trial to allow more time to prepare your defense. 

Where To Look For a Defense Attorney?

Unless the court appoints a public attorney, you will need to hire a private defense attorney to manage your case. If you choose to represent yourself in court, be aware that you will only be allowed to do so if the judge finds you competent enough to handle your own representation.

To find a private defense attorney, you can contact local bar associations or search for an attorney online. Be aware of the costs. In most cases, a defense attorney will charge you a flat fee for a full set of services needed for your defense. This includes researching your case, locating witnesses, negotiating a plea deal (if needed), attending court hearings, and more. The price for such services may range from $3,000 to $10,000. If any additional work is involved, your attorney may charge you an extra per hour fee of $200 to $700 per hour. It’s not uncommon for criminal defense cases to get into the $10,000 to $20,000 range. 

Understandably, this is a big investment. And if you are having a hard time budgeting for legal services, you may be interested in a way to minimize legal costs. 

How To Save Money in Defense Costs with Unbundled Legal Services?

If you want to minimize the legal costs associated with your defense, consider using unbundled legal services. With unbundled legal services, you can hire a lawyer for a specific task instead of paying for a full set of legal services. For instance, you may want to get a second opinion on your case from a private attorney after you’ve been appointed a public defender. Or you may need an attorney to attend a court hearing with you. With unbundled legal services, you will be able to hire an attorney to perform specific tasks. As a result, you could be potentially saving thousands of dollars in legal fees while still getting the counsel you need. 

Understandably, unbundled legal services may not be the best option for a complicated criminal case. In fact, in most criminal proceedings, you will need to have full legal representation to make sure your case has the best possible outcome. You can still turn to the Unbundled Help Legal network for full legal representation. We will connect you with a local defense lawyer in our network who will ‌take your case full time. Since we work with many smaller law firms and independent attorneys, you may find the prices for their services very reasonable. 

We can connect you today with a criminal defense attorney for an evaluation of your case.

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