If you risk being accused of a crime and arrested, it’s important to have an overview of criminal defense in Louisiana and to contact a reputable criminal defense attorney as early in the legal process as possible. Your attorney will work with you through every step of the process and protect your legal rights.
You will need to make a court appearance known as an arraignment. If you are jailed, you will usually be arraigned within 72 hours of arrest. An arraignment allows the judge to hear all the charges against you and at this time you will be asked to enter a plea. If you plead not guilty, you may change your plea to guilty at anytime before your case goes to trial but should you decide to plead guilty you will not have the benefit of a jury trial and instead your case will go directly to sentencing. An overview of criminal defense in Louisiana will explain the possible consequences of your plea.
At the time of arraignment, the court will also set bail, though you may also be denied bail if you are determined to be a flight risk. If the judge feels you are most likely to appear for your court date, he may release you on your own recognizance. If the court sets bail you have three possible ways to pay it: cash, a pledge of property or you can obtain a bail bond through a bail bondsman.
The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees you the right to a speedy trial. In Louisiana you must be charged within 45 days of arrest if you are being held in custody for a misdemeanor and 60 days for a felony. If you are not being held in custody, you must be charged within 90 days of arrest for a misdemeanor and 150 days for a felony. The right to a speedy trial can be waived if you need additional time for the preparation of your defense.
If you are convicted after a trial, you have the right to appeal. There are a number of reasons to appeal a guilty verdict in a criminal case, including: allowing inadmissible evidence, lack of sufficient evidence, mistakes by the judge to properly instruct the jury, and juror misconduct. Depending on the crime, this process can vary, but there are deadlines for filing an appeal. An overview of criminal defense in Louisiana will help you to understand these limitations and all the other steps involved in the legal process.