What to Expect After An Arrest Has Been Made
STEPS OF THE LEGAL PROCESS
- Incident or Crime
- Arrest of the accused
- 1st Appearance Hearing at the Floyd County Jail. If bond is denied then a Motion for Bond in Superior Court.
- Accusation for Misdemeanor Cases or Indictment by the Grand Jury for Felony Cases
- Arraignment Hearing
- Guilty Plea, Not Guilty Plea or Not Guilty /Waiver of Arraignment
- Calendar Call for Jury Trial
- Trial or Guilty Plea
- Sentence or Acquittal (No Conviction)
After an arrest, the accused will usually have a bond set by a Magistrate Court Judge at a 1st Appearance Hearing. Victims should contact the Floyd County Jail administrators to ask to be notified about the release of the accused if they are concerned about their safety. Many times the District Attorney's Office is not yet aware of the victims concerns at the time of the 1st Appearance Hearing especially if the incident took place on a Holiday or a weekend. The telephone number to the Floyd County Jail is: 706-291-4111.
If bond is denied at the 1st Appearance Hearing, a Motion for Bond can be filed by a Defense Attorney and later a Bond Hearing will be scheduled in Superior Court. The District Attorney's office can either agree to or oppose the Motion for Bond depending on the facts of the case.
PRE-TRIAL HEARINGS & MOTIONS
In felony cases a series of pre-trial hearings or motions could possibly be scheduled before an actual trial. Victims may or may not need to be present depending on the circumstances; but will be notified of the proceedings and the outcome of the proceedings if a Notification Request Form has been received by the Victim Witness Assistance Program.
- Preliminary Hearing - usually held within a few weeks after the arrest if bond is not granted. Evidence is presented to a Magistrate Judge in who will decide if "probable cause" exists in order to send the case to Superior Court. Not all cases will have a Preliminary Hearing.
- Grand Jury Hearing. A closed hearing in which Law Enforcement will provide testimony the Grand Jury who will determine if there is enough evidence to formally charge the accused. Once an indictment has taken place, the case will be assigned to one of four Superior Court Judges.
- The Arraignment. The Defendant is formally advised of the charges. The Defendant enters a guilty plea, a not guilty plea or a not guilty waiver of arraignment. If the Defendant pleads not guilty or enters a not guilty waiver, the case will be added to a calendar call for jury trial.
- Attorneys can file various motions prior to a trial. Motions to suppress & motions of immunity are common and often held immediately prior to the trial.
CONTACT FROM A DEFENSE ATTORNEYBe advised that victims are sometimes contacted by Defense Attorneys to discuss their side of the situation. As the victim of a crime, you have the right to refuse or agree to be interviewed by the accused, the accused’s attorney, or anyone who represents or contacts you on behalf of the accused in the case. If you agree to be interviewed, you may set conditions for the interview, who may be present, any security arrangements for the interview and whether or not the interview may be recorded. You also have the right to terminate the interview at any time or to refuse to answer any questions during the interview. If you have questions, you may contact the District Attorney’s Office at 706-291-5210.
Victims & Witnesses will be subpoenaed. If the District Attorney's Office, which is referred to on the subpoena as "The State" subpoenas you, please contact the Victim Advocate, the Assistant District Attorney or the D.A's Office Investigator who is assigned to your case about specifically when to appear. Many times you can call the Witness Information Line (706-290-6075) to be placed "on call." The recording will ask you to leave your name, case number and date of the trial which is listed on the subpoena and your contact information. This will help you avoid any unnecessary trips to court or risk being arrested for the "failure to appear."
- Jury Selection,
- The trial will begin with opening statements by the State then the Defense,
- The Assistant District Attorney & the Defense Attorney will have a chance to ask questions or to "examine" each witness,
- Both sides will end the trial with closing statements,
- The Jury "deliberates" to determine if the defendant is guilty or not guilty,
- The Judge will announce that the jury has found the defendant either guilty or not guilty,
- If found guilty the Judge will sentence the defendant either at that time or at a separate sentencing hearing.
- Tell the truth,
- Prior to testifying, write down the facts (as you remember them) if necessary,
- A neat, clean appearance & proper dress in court are important. Business casual attire, shirts without slogans, fully covered tops & pants, no shorts or sleeveless tops, etc. The courtrooms are often chilly, bring a jacket or a sweater,
- Do not chew gum on the witness stand,
- Be serious in the courtroom, avoid loud talking, joking or laughing aloud,
- Do not discuss your testimony with other witnesses either before or after you have testified,
- Speak clearly and loud enough for the jury to hear,
- Carefully listen to the questions that are asked of you,
- Answer the questions directly and simply. Do not volunteer information that has not been asked about,
- If you do not understand a question, ask for it to be re-stated and if you do not understand a word ask for the definition,
- Honest emotion is acceptable, but it is important to remain as composed as possible.
While acknowledging that a trial can be very emotional the court requires that any victims, witnesses, or concerned family members in attendance react as little as possible during all court proceedings. We sincerely appreciate it when courtroom decorum is maintained.
For more information and to see a chart of a very detailed sequence of events, please visit: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/justsys.cfm.