If you’re facing charges of federal crimes in DC, there are several things that you should know. Among these are the basics of what happens in the criminal process, the differences between bail and incarceration, and how you can find a lawyer.
Indictments occur during the criminal process
DC federal arrests usually start with an indictment. An indictment is a formal criminal charging document that lists crimes against the target. In DC, indictments are usually brought by a grand jury.
The grand jury is a panel of 16 to 23 citizens that votes on whether to bring charges against a person or entity. If the jury believes that the person charged has committed a crime, the jury will issue an arrest warrant.
Depending on the nature of the alleged crime, it can take months or even years for the government to gather enough evidence and prepare an indictment. Once the indictment is prepared, the prosecutor can ask the defendant to turn himself in or ask for a voluntary surrender. Usually, prosecutors want to get the person into custody as soon as possible after the indictment is issued.
A grand jury is a secret panel of citizens that investigates and makes determinations on crimes. Unlike court trials, the process is entirely closed to the public.
Charges are announced after the initial appearance
After an arrest, a person is informed of their rights and is usually released on a bond. The person will be told of their court date and will be given a copy of the charges against them.
Generally, the first court hearing is held before a magistrate judge. A defendant can request to have an attorney. He or she can also receive a bond set by the government.
A criminal case is usually the result of a lengthy investigation. Federal agents may have reviewed numerous documents and conducted countless hours of surveillance. This means that a lot of evidence has been gathered.
In most cases, a federal arrest warrant is signed by a federal magistrate. This means that the government has sufficient evidence to formally prosecute a defendant. If a defendant fails to appear, a bench warrant can be issued.
The initial appearance of a person arrested in the District of Columbia is generally held in the DC Superior Court. In some cases, a judge can hear the case the same day.
Bail is not required in DC
If you have been arrested in the District of Columbia, you may be wondering whether or not you need bail. In the District of Columbia, bail is not required for federal arrests. Instead, a defendant is released with a citation to appear at a later court date.
Bail is required for felony offenses. These include crimes like murder and aggravated assault. You may also be referred to a grand jury, which is made up of 20 community members. Once a felony is charged, the defendant is indicted by a grand jury. The judge then sentences the defendant.
First offense DUI charges in DC are usually released on a citation. A DUI is an offense that requires a chemical test (breathalyzer or urine), a photo, and the requisite fingerprints. After the suspect is processed, they are usually released within two or three hours. However, DC criminal defense lawyers can advise you on the best course of action.
Pretrial release is another option in DC. Depending on the crime, a person may be held in custody until the next scheduled court date. This may include a drug test, alcohol treatment, no contact with the accuser, or other conditions.
Barry Lachey is a Professional Editor at Zobuz. Previously He has also worked for Moxly Sports and Network Resources “Joe Joe.” he is a graduate of the Kings College at the University of Thames Valley London. You can reach Barry via email or by phone.