The video above provides a step-by-step explanation regarding the Louisiana criminal court process.
The first thing a defendant and his family should learn when entering the criminal justice system is the general process. People are naturally afraid of what they do not know or understand. Carl Barkemeyer puts a lot of time and effort into informing all of his clients regarding the process they will go through. Below is only a summary of some of the main aspects of the criminal justice system in Louisiana.
Every case begins with either an arrest or summons. The law requires that an officer must have probable cause to arrest someone. This means that the officer must have an articulable factual basis to believe that the arrestee committed a crime. The officer may have an arrest warrant in which a judge has approved after an affidavit of probable cause was presented to the judge. Nevertheless, a warrant is not required to make an arrest. Issues may arise as to the legality of the stop, search, and seizure of an arrestee.
Click here for more on Arraignment. An arraignmment is the first court date. It is the time for the court to inform the defendant of the charges filed against him by the prosecution. The judge will inform the defendant of his right to counsel and then appoint the public defender if the defendant can not afford an attorney. The defendant will enter a plea to the charges. He may plea not guilty, guilty, nolo contendere, or not guilty by reason of insanity.
The process may include one or multiple motion hearings in which the court hears motions by the attorneys regarding issues affecting the case. The specifics of the case will determine the types of motions hearings.
The defendant has the right to go to trial in every criminal case. In felony matters, he may have a trial by jury composed of either 6 or 12 jurors, depending on the charge. However, the defendant may choose to be tried by a judge. This is the stage where the prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Evidence must be proven through witness testimony and other types of evidence.
If the defendant pleads guilty or is otherwise found guilty at trial, the judge will determine the sentence based on statutory law, the defendant’s criminal record, and the facts of the case.
Some judges in Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes order pre-sentence investigations prior to imposing a sentence. All federal judges order pre-sentence investigations.
The sentence may consist of hard labor (prison time), parish jail time, probation, restitution, community service, attendance of rehabilitative classes, obtaining a GED, drug screens, and payment of fine and court costs.
Contact Baton Rouge criminal lawyer, Carl Barkemeyer at (225) 964-6720 for a consultation.