:: Criminal Administrative Procedure :: Criminal/Traffic :: DUI/OVI ::


Most criminal prosecutions commence upon the arrest of the accused (or the Defendant). Most often the arresting agency is a city police department, or, in the case of a federal prosecution, one of the federal agencies such as the FBI, the DEA or the IRS. These agents usually have the discretion to detain the defendant until a court can set a bond, or these agents can release the defendant upon the defendant's own recognizance. However, just because a person has been arrested does not mean the arresting agency will actually charge the person. The decision to charge the person is usually made by the arresting agency consulting with the prosecuting attorney.

After the defendant has been arrested, he must be arraigned. Arraignment is the first official court action against the defendant. The legal purpose of an arraignment is to officially read the charge to the defendant, to permit the defendant to enter a plea (e.g. guilty, not guilty or no contest) to the charge, and to have the court set a bond. If the defendant is in custody, the arraignment must take rather quickly. In Ohio, the judge has the ability to set a number of types of bonds and conditions for pretrial release. The purpose of the bond is to assure the attendance of the defendant at his trial. The judge can set (i) a cash bond, (ii) a cash/surety bond, (iii) a ten percent bond or (iv) a personal bond. A cash bond requires the defendant to post the entire cash amount set by the judge. A cash/surety bond requires the defendant to either post the cash amount or utilize the services of a bondsman. If the defendant has sufficient collateral and does not appear to be a flight risk, a bondsman will post a promissory note with the court (on behalf of the defendant) for the full amount of the bond. In return, the bondsman is paid a one-time fee equaling approximately ten percent of the set bond amount - a fee which the bondsman keeps forever. A ten percent bond requires the defendant (or a family member or friend) to post just ten percent of the bond with the court, with the other 90% to be due to the court if the defendant fails to appear for trial. If the defendant appears for all court proceedings, the defendant will be entitled to the ten percent back from the court. A personal bond does not require the defendant to pay anything to a bondsman or to the court, and assumes that the defendant, basically on his honor, will appear for all portions of the court process.

Most, but not all, judges will set what is called a "pretrial" in the criminal prosecution process. The use of the word "trial' in the term "pretrial" is technically misleading in that there is really no official court proceeding at all. A pretrial is basically just an informal meeting between the prosecutor and the defendant's attorney to discuss the facts of the case and a possible plea arrangement. In almost all cases, the defendant must be present on this court date. If the prosecutor and the defense attorney reach a plea arrangement, the judge will go on the bench and officially take the plea and, in most cases, refer the defendant to the appropriate probation department for a pre-sentence investigation. However, if the judge chooses to do so, he may sentence the defendant immediately after the plea.

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