Criminal Defense

You have been arrested, what happens now?

What you should know

It is crucial to seek legal representation as soon as possible. A skilled criminal defense lawyer will discuss your case with you and work promptly to gather testimony and build a defense strategy. Do not speak to the police without the presence of an attorney. The police are not on your side and may try to obtain information that could be used against you in court. The decision to detain you in jail or release you on bail will depend on whether you have been charged with a felony or a misdemeanor.

Release for Felony charges

If you are arrested for a felony, you may be held in jail until your bail hearing or until bail is posted. This is more likely to be the case if the charge is related to guns or violence, or if you have a prior criminal record. On the other hand, if the felony charge is related to property, you may be released from jail and given a court date. It is important to remember that you must appear in court on the date specified or a warrant will be issued for your re-arrest.

Misdemeanor Arrest 

In Fresno, if you are arrested for a misdemeanor, you may either be issued a citation by the police officer or taken to jail. The severity of the offense will determine whether you are released on the same day with a citation or if bail is set. If bail is set, you can contact a bail bondsman and pay the required amount to be released from jail. It is important to note that if you have been arrested for DUI and there is someone sober and able to pick you up, the officer may choose to issue a citation at the scene. However, if the misdemeanor charge is related to firearms or domestic violence, you will likely be taken to jail.

Bail hearing

If you are unable to pay the required bail, you will remain in jail until a bail hearing takes place. A competent criminal defense lawyer can file a motion to have your bail significantly reduced or to release you on your own recognizance. This may involve using electronic monitoring as a condition of your release. In order to be released on your own recognizance, your attorney will need to convince the court that you do not pose a danger to the community or a risk of failing to appear in court. It is essential to seek legal counsel as soon as possible so that they can gather character references and letters from your employer to present to the court in support of a bail reduction. The court will consider your character when deciding whether to grant a reduction in bail.


The next step in the criminal justice process is the arraignment. At this hearing, the defendant typically enters a plea of not guilty. However, a competent criminal defense lawyer can advise you on whether it may be more beneficial to admit the charge and be sentenced immediately, or to plead not guilty and proceed to the next phase of the case. If the charge is a misdemeanor, the next hearing will typically be a pre-trial hearing at which you and your attorney will receive copies of the police reports related to your case.

Preliminary Hearing

If you are charged with a felony, you have the right to a preliminary hearing within 10 to 60 court days. The timing of this hearing may depend on the strength of the evidence against you and whether it may be advantageous to let more time pass before proceeding. A knowledgeable attorney can advise you on the best course of action. At the preliminary hearing, the prosecution must present sufficient evidence to convince the court that a crime was committed and that you were the perpetrator. Before this hearing, you and your lawyer should have a thorough understanding of your case and determine the most effective strategy. In some cases, such as those involving drugs or alcohol, seeking treatment may help mitigate the sentence.


If your case cannot be resolved, you have a right to a trial.  

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