What to Expect After a Citation or Arrest

Citation

If you have been cited for an offense that typically means you were not placed under arrest but given a notice to come to court on a specific date and time, generally 4-6 weeks after the citation.

If that is the case you do not have to go through the booking process and you would not have to post a bond to be released.

It is imperative that you do NOT miss that hearing date on the citation. The first hearing is when the judge will advise you of your Constitutional Rights and potential penalties you are facing.

If you retain an attorney prior to that hearing, the attorney may be able to file a written plea of not guilty and you may not have to appear at that hearing. Instead, the first appearance you would have to be present for would be a pre-trial hearing set by the court for a later date.

Arrest

If you or someone you know has been arrested, you would have to post a bond to be released. If the charge does not involve a domestic partner or is not a felony, there is typically a set bond amount the jail or judge will put in place. If it is a felony or a misdemeanor involving a domestic partner, the person charged with the crime would have to have their bond set by a Judge or Clerk Magistrate. In smaller counties the Judge or Clerk Magistrate will review the affidavit provided by the arresting officer to determine an amount.

If the case is in Douglas, Sarpy, or Lancaster counties the person facing the charge will be brought before a judge, bond will be set and the judge will set the matter for further hearing. The next hearing can be a pre-trial hearing if the matter is a misdemeanor or a preliminary hearing if it is a felony.

After the bond amount is set by the judge and that bond is posted, the individual charged with the crime is released. Sometimes, the individual will have to comply with pre-trial services or the 24/7 testing program by calling in on a daily basis to check in.

Preliminary Hearing

If you or the person you know is charged with a felony, the next hearing will be a preliminary hearing. This hearing is to determine if a crime probably occurred and the person charged is probably the person who committed it.

A preliminary hearing is held before a county court judge and if that judge determines a crime probably occurred and the person charged is probably the person who committed it, the criminal matter is “bound over” to stand trial in the district court.

This is not a finding of guilt, only a finding that enough evidence exists to have the case moved to district court for that person to potentially stand trial.

The rules of evidence do not apply at a preliminary hearing and therefore the necessary witnesses may not even testify at the hearing.

Pre-Trial Hearing

If the matter is a misdemeanor or if the felony matter has been bound over after a preliminary hearing the next step is a pre-trial hearing. This is typically held one to two months after the first appearance.

A pre-trial hearing is just as the name implies. It is a hearing prior to any trials to determine if a plea agreement can be or has been reached. If no agreement is reached, the pre-trial hearing may be used to set further hearings.

If a plea agreement is reached, the parties may be able to enter the plea at that scheduled date.

Sometimes a judge will order a pre-sentence investigation to get further information about the person pleading - their family history, school history, work history, and criminal history. The PSI will also have the circumstances that lead to the defendant pleading guilty or no contest.

Trial

By state and federal law a trial must commence within 6 months of the filing of the charging document. For a misdemeanor that is the criminal complaint, for felony charges that is the filing of the information in district court.

For felony charges, everyone has the absolute right to a jury trial. If you or someone you know is facing a misdemeanor charge, there is not an absolute right to a jury trial unless the offense falls into certain categories.

Also, a defendant charged may wish to waive their right to a jury trial and instead have a bench trial where the judge hears all the evidence and makes the determination of guilt or innocence.

Post-Trial Issues

If a defendant has been convicted of the crime charged by either entering a plea or by being convicted at trial, they have an absolute right to a direct appeal.

There are certain time limits to file the notice of appeal depending on if the matter is in federal or state court.

If that time has already passed, an individual convicted of a crime may have the ability to file for “post-conviction relief” as outlined in federal or state law.

Whatever step you or the person you may know is in the process, the Attorneys with Hug & Jacobs can provide the help needed and strive to obtain the desired outcome.