It is crucial for people to know what to expect prior to an arrest and what their rights are. By having this knowledge, you will know how to conduct yourself and be able to limit your exposure to unnecessary criminal charges. Read below to learn more about what to expect before an arrest in Prince William County. And if you are facing charges, reach out to an accomplished criminal lawyer.
Indictments are legal charges issued by grand juries, which are special juries that review presentations of criminal evidence against a person who has yet to be charged, but who a prosecutor is interested in charging. Grand juries are required to issue related criminal charges if a prosecutor demonstrates enough evidence to show that there is “probable cause” to believe a particular person has committed a particular offense. Probable cause is a very low evidentiary standard, and it is the same standard police need to be able to arrest someone, secure a warrant to search, or seize something.
Indictments are usually issued for felony offenses where the police or prosecution have discovered its believed perpetration, or perpetrator, after the fact, or have delayed the charging process for some reason. Sometimes the prosecution wishes to learn more about what is going on through continued surveillance that builds up more evidence against a person before bringing the matter to the legal system’s attention. Other times, the prosecution must wait to confirm the actual nature of the charge because they are waiting on their own evidence to be developed, such as the result of a laboratory test on suspected drug substances. It is also common for law enforcement to give the accused a chance to turn themselves in on an indictment after notifying related parties of the existence of the charge, rather than abruptly arresting the accused.
Most people learn that an indictment has been issued against them because police call them, or go visit their home or work looking for them. Many people also find out about pending indictments because they are pulled over for an unrelated traffic offense, and that officer tells them that he noticed an active pending charge for the person in his computer system. Many officers will let the driver know that they are going to be arrested on that pending charge at the end of the traffic stop. Outside of this scenario, if law enforcement has not offered or proposed that a person turn themselves in when notifying them about an indictment, the implication is that police are actively looking to arrest that person in the immediate future if/when they are found.
People have the right to retain counsel against charges even though the charges have not been officially commenced within the court system. Individuals also have a right to call the appropriate police department to inquire about the existence and nature of any pending charges against them. People are not required to turn themselves in or have any communication with law enforcement despite knowing that an indictment exists. Before an arrest, individuals have the right to remain silent.
For more information, contact an attorney about what to expect before an arrest in Prince William County.