Criminal Defense and Criminal Court

How soon should you be seeking a criminal defense lawyer after being arrested, arraigned, or indicted? The answer is “as soon as possible.” It’s best to arrange legal assistance quickly, because prosecutors and police will not pause investigations and wait for you to hire a lawyer. It is your right to speak with a lawyer immediately and avoid jeopardizing your innocence.

When you seek a criminal defense lawyer, you need an attorney that’s experienced in criminal law, committed to clients, and effective, yet affordable. Joseph Horowitz, Attorney at Law, works a wide range of criminal charges, including DUI offenses, drug offenses, and gun offenses in the Pittsburgh region.

We know that each of our clients and their cases are unique, which is why we tailor our services to individuals and their needs. Our clients receive educated, relevant information to assist them in acquiring the best possible outcome.

Basics of Criminal Procedure

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being arrested, here is a general outline of what you can expect, Joseph Horowitz, Attorney at Law ** can positively impact your outcome:

The Arrest

When someone is suspected of committing a crime or has been witnessed allegedly committing a crime, law enforcement will arrest an individual and take the suspect into custody, whether on-site or with an issued arrest warrant. This is typically the start of criminal proceedings.

If you are arrested, law enforcement is required to inform you of your rights as a suspect. The Miranda Rights, which may change based on jurisdiction, state:

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?”

Though instinct may be to reason and explain yourself to law enforcement, it’s important to use these rights to your advantage, as any of your statements may be misinterpreted and used against you. With a lawyer, statements will be clear and concise and reduce risk of self-incrimination.

In the event that you are ever arrested in the Pittsburgh area, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney that will work with you to achieve positive results and protect your rights and your future.

The Charges

After the arrest, law enforcement personnel will prepare reports which detail the offenses allegedly committed by the suspect. The report is distributed to the prosecution team and the defense attorney (if one has been hired at this point). The prosecution will decide whether or not to press charges, and which charges to press if that direction is taken.

The decision to press charges is usually made based on the available information and whether issuing charges will result in a criminal conviction or a plea bargain. Having a defense attorney present at this step in the criminal process is highly beneficial, and can have a great impact on the rest of the proceedings.

The Arraignment

Following the arrest and charges, formal arraignment is the first criminal court appearance. Arraignments happen fairly quickly, necessitating the need for an efficient, knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to help you through this setting.

At the arraignment, the defendant is read the charges pressed against him or her, and asked if they have a representing attorney. The defendant may answer that they have an attorney in place, or that they wish to request a court-appointed lawyer for representation. Next, the judge will ask the defendant to enter a plea, whether guilty or not guilty. Third, the court will decide whether you are released with or without bail until the formal court proceedings.

With a skilled defense attorney, you can enter the arraignment with confidence that your interests are being protected, and that a legal team is properly representing you and taking very opportunity to review your case and achieve the best possible outcome

The Pretrial Proceedings

Before the actual trial to determine a defendant’s guilt or innocence, the pretrial step includes motions, case discovery (investigation), witness summons, and more pretrial motions. A pretrial hearing is held with both sides in attendance. Here is where pretrial motions, discoveries, and witness summons are filed and processed.

The defense and the prosecution are able to enter into plea bargains at this step, which would keep the case from going to trial. Should you enter a plea bargain if given the chance? This is one of the most important aspects of the pretrial process, and also one of the most complex. A defense attorney’s skills and knowledge will have a large influence on the direction of the pretrial process, such as successful motions to repress evidence or address wrongdoings in the arrest and arraignment steps. Successful defense motions can result in throwing out the prosecution’s case and acquitting the defendant of all charges.

The Trial

If the case moves to the trial, the prosecution and defense will have opportunities to present opening statements, question witnesses, present evidence, and make closing statements to the judge and jury. After reviewing the evidence, the jury will find a verdict of guilty or not guilty.

An aggressive and experienced defense lawyer on your side in the court of law is a valuable asset. An effective criminal lawyer can create and present a case that seeks the best possible outcome for you.

The Verdict and Sentencing

After deliberation of the case, the jury is responsible for reaching a unanimous verdict of the defendant’s guilt or innocence. If there are multiple charges, the jury will decide on guilty or innocent verdicts for each charge. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge will decide an appropriate sentence should be served. Depending on the crime and severity of the charges, sentencing can range from probation, to house arrest, to multiple years in prison. Sentences may also include, fines, counseling, rehabilitation, restitution, and community service.

The Appeal

Once a verdict has been reached and a sentence delivered, the defendant and his attorney may appeal any decision made in criminal trial. Appeals provide the defendant a “second chance”, of sorts, to eliminate any possible errors or violations in the criminal process that could have had an affect on the final verdict.

The defendant needs to present sufficient grounds for appeal, such as insufficient evidence, improper exclusion and admission of evidence, unclear jury instruction, erroneous rulings on motions in the pretrial, or improper juror conduct. If the request for an appeal is granted, both parties appear in the Appeals Court to present oral arguments. The Appeals Court may uphold the verdict, modify the ruling of the lower court, send the trial back to the lower court, or may order a new trial.

Call Joseph Horowitz for a Defense Case Consultation

Attorney Joseph Horowitz has the knowledge and experience to navigate you and your case through the criminal court proceedings and has the tools to direct your case to a favorable case result. Request a consultation today to find out how Mr. Horowitz can protect your interests, your rights, and your future. Call (412) 276-5896, or visit his office location at 101 West Main Street, Carnegie, PA 15106.