Our Washington DC Criminal Defense Lawyer handles a wide range of criminal cases including but not limited to:
- DUI/DWI Defense
- Drug Crimes
- Gun Crimes
- Sex Offenses
- Misrepresentation of Age
Successful criminal defense is not only premised on full understanding of the applicable criminal code and cases, but on the courtroom legal maneuvering and the motion practice to exclude or suppress exculpatory evidence and to clear path to a non-guilty verdict or dismissal.
Below is a brief summary of the criminal procedure in the District of Columbia:
DC CRIMINAL CASE
A criminal case is often initiated by effectuating an arrest. In more serious criminal cases and major felonies there will be a grand jury presentation and indictment to cement the criminal process either pre-arrest or post arrest.
In most misdemeanor cases though an arrest commences the criminal process. There has to be a probable cause to effectuate and arrest. This is a very low threshold and the legality of an arrest can be challenged through the criminal process especially when there are fourth amendment violations.
Generally if the defendant has no prior convictions, or the arrest is not for major felony, after the processing at the police station, the defendant is released via citation to return to court for an arraignment.
In more serious charges or where there are prior arrests or convictions, the defendant is transferred after the processing to the courthouse for arraignment and review of the conditions of release .
It is the formal presentation of the charges. The prosecutors generally formally charge the defendant in the courtroom as well as provide the defense various summary police report and details of the incident giving rise to the charges.
The defendant formally waives the reading of the charging document and enters an initial plea via DC Criminal Defense Lawyer – almost invariably a NOT GUILTY PLEA.
The case is generally set for a status hearing 4-6 weeks after the arraignment if a misdemeanor and preliminary hearing if a felony. If there is no indictment by the preliminary hearing date, then the government has the burden to establish there is probably cause to move forward with the charges.
In the misdemeanor cases, the status hearing is an opportunity to finalize discovery requests and issues as well as to consider all plea offers in order to reach an early disposition.
In low level misdemeanor cases with no prior convictions they may be an offer for diversion, or defer sentencing agreement. It is important to explore all plea offers before diverting the case to trial.
DISCOVERY AND MOTIONS
An experienced DC Criminal lawyer begins case preparation at the arraignment or even before if there is a police investigation prior to the arrest.
Discovery requests and motions practice are an integral part of case preparation. The discovery requests is purposed to gather all relevant case information and documents for diligent review. Oftentimes criminal cases can be dismissed on procedure and law enforcement errors. A thorough discovery should reveal defects in the government’s case.
Motions practice is generally used to exclude evidence that was obtained illegally and is inculpatory or to highlight or top include evidence that is exculpatory.
If all plea negotiations fail, then the next step would be to present evidence at trial. The government would have the burden of beyond reasonable doubt to prove their case. At trial the DC Criminal Defense Lawyer would put forward witnesses and other evidence to create reasonable doubt in order to get an acquittal.
This is where trial experience and execution would make the difference between a guilty verdict or a non guilty verdict and acquittal.
Arrest records as well as public criminal records maybe eligible for expungement. The specific eligibility requirements vary from case to case. The expungement process is a very effective tool to reverse the effects of a criminal arrest and to seal the records from public view.
If the trial Judge was a Magistrate, then the first level appeal would be handled by an associate Judge. Thereafter, the Court of Appeals will have jurisdiction to review the case decided by a DC Superior Court Judge.
It is critical during the trial process for the record to be preserved by timely objections and motions to the court. A successful appeal process starts at trial and an experienced Washington DC Criminal Lawyer foresees and preserves the appellate arguments at trial.
Contact our Washington DC Criminal Defense Lawyer to schedule an initial case evaluation and analysis.