You’ve been arrested, taken to jail and booked. Then you managed to “make bond” without the aid of an attorney.
What should you know?
Just because you made bond your case has not gone away.
You should immediately consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after you have been released from jail.
The police at the time of arrest can only “book” someone with a felony in Louisiana. Being booked is not being charged.
In Louisiana there is a time period allowed to the District Attorney in which he must decide whether or not to charge a person who has been arrested with a crime and if so, what crime to charge in particular.
This time period is called the “screening period.” This is the most crucial time period in your case.
Your attorney can explain your side of the event or provide evidence that proves you were not involved. The matter may be resolved without your ever being charged with a crime. The prosecutor can decide to not file any charges.
If you are charged, your case will be scheduled for an “arraignment.” Arraignment is also called a “first appearance.”
So what happens at this first appearance anyway?
When a person is charged with a felony, they are required to appear personally before the judge in order to enter a plea.
First you, now the defendant, will be informed what charges have been filed.
Then you will have to decide how you will plea. The three pleas commonly entered at a first appearance are: Not Guilty, No Contest or Guilty.
In the United States, all criminal defendants have the right to legal representation. If that’s an expense that “isn’t within your budget”, a public defendant will be there “to help you.”
You have and should have already made the arrangements to hire a private attorney. Your life, freedom and livelihood are at stake. Now is not the time to “penny wise and pound foolish”!
Many times in life, free advise is worth precisely what you have paid for it.
If your case is very serious the prosecutor could argue for a higher bail amount, even if you have already been released on bail. You could go directly back to jail, without warning.
When you have hired an attorney this is much less likely to occur as your attorney will have already had preliminary discussions with the prosecutor regarding your matter.
And if your attorney thinks or knows this is going to happen, he will have already contacted your bondsman before you go to court. If bail goes up, they will be there to post an additional bond right away.
If you have been released on bail bonds and have questions about what to expect and/or how to dress for your first court date be sure to contact a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney before you get that subpoena for your first court date.