What to Expect When from the Criminal Justice System in Pennsylvania
If you are under investigation for or have been arrested and charged with a crime in Pennsylvania, there’s a specific process that must be followed to protect your constitutional rights.
Before you can be arrested and charged with any crime, the arresting officer must have one of the following:
- A valid arrest warrant signed by a judge
- Probable cause, based on the facts and circumstances, to believe that a crime has been or is about to be committed
- Visually observed you committing what he or she reasonably believes to be a crime
Once you are taken into custody, the arresting officer must immediately advise you of your Miranda rights (set forth in the U.S. Supreme Court Case, Miranda v. Arizona). Under the Miranda ruling, you must be informed of your right to remain silent, as well as that anything you say can be used against you in court. You have the right to have a lawyer present for any questioning, and have the right to have a lawyer appointed, if you cannot afford one.
Booking, Bond and Release
Once you arrive at the detention facility, police will gather personal information, take fingerprints, confiscate all personal items and conduct a further search, if necessary. You will then be placed in a holding cell until your arraignment before a judge. The prosecutor will then coordinate with police to prepare the criminal complaint. If the prosecutor determines there is insufficient evidence, you will be released. But if a complaint is filed, bail must be determined within 12 hours of the filing.
Once the complaint is filed, a preliminary arraignment must be scheduled within 72 hours, except on weekends, where it may take longer. A preliminary hearing will be held within three to ten days, where charges may be reduced, dismissed or allowed to move forward.
Contact the Law Offices of John E. Kusturiss, Jr.
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