The criminal process starts with a stop or an arrest and ends with sentencing, based on the facts and circumstances surrounding the accused crime. However, you still possess specific rights throughout the proceedings.

The Stop

A stop is not considered an arrest. Instead, it is an opportunity for the police officer to detain you and ask questions without moving you to another location. A police officer is not allowed to stop you unless he or she has probable cause or a reasonable belief that you have violated the law. In addition, you have the option of not answering any questions that the officer asks.

The police may also ask to search you and your vehicle. It is imperative to understand that law enforcement cannot search your vehicle without your consent, unless they have probable cause to do so. In conclusion, the officer can arrest you if he has probable cause if he or she sees you commit a misdemeanor, believes that you committed a felony, of if there is a warrant for your arrest.

The Arrest

When you are placed under arrest, the officer must advise you of your constitutional rights, such as your right to remain silent and your right to get legal advice from an attorney. As soon as you are arrested, you should be provided with a chance to contact a lawyer or anyone else you want to inform about your arrest.

Once you are arrested, there is a certain amount of time before you must either be charged with a crime or released. If you are not charged and held for an unreasonable amount of time, your lawyer can request your release from the judge.


Once you are arrested and charged with a criminal offense, you will then be booked. This means that your fingers need to be printed, and your personal information and crime charged will be entered into the police record. Your personal belongings will be inventoried and kept safe while you are in custody.

Based on the circumstances of your case, there is a chance you may be released and ordered to appear for your court hearing. On the other hand, you may have to put up a specific amount of bail to ensure your release before the hearing.

Entering a Plea

You may have to remain in police custody until a court hearing on your release is made. If this occurs, you will be asked to enter a plea – not guilty, guilty, or no contest. If you plead “not guilty,” the judge will determine the terms of your release or if you will be released pending trial.

If you plead “guilty or “no contest,” there will not be a trial. In this scenario, you will either be sentenced right after the verdict or sentenced at a later time. If the latter happens, the judge will decide whether you should be held in custody until sentencing or whether you should be released and ordered to appear in court for sentencing.

To learn more, call our criminal defense law firm at (972) 424-0760 or visit our contact us page to send us an email.