Montgomery County Indictments

A criminal indictment is a formal accusation that a person has committed a crime. An indictment initiates a criminal case, and the defendant is informed of the charges against them. If you have been indicted for a criminal offense, it is best to reach out to a seasoned defense attorney as soon as possible. They could explain the formal process of Montgomery County indictments as well as your legal options to fight the charges.

Stages of An Indictment

The police will submit their Affidavit of Probable Cause, which is the reason why they believe they have enough evidence for an arrest. They might even suggest charges that they believe should be associated with the case in their police paperwork to the Montgomery County District Attorney. That is the beginning of the case with the police investigation.

The District Attorney can decline to pursue some charges, but depending on where the arrest was made, the defendant will go to a Magisterial Court for a preliminary arraignment. After that, the case will be listed for a preliminary hearing.

In those hearings, the police officers might state the reasons why they believe these charges should be filed in a summary of their evidence. In Montgomery County, the evidence is usually in a written summary and not a complete back and forth testimony from multiple witnesses.

This is where the case is started, by the police suggesting to the District Attorney that a warrant be issued, and from there, the District Attorney will decide whether to go forward with the charges. A Notice will be given to the defense attorney as to what charges they will be pursuing.

Law Enforcement Investigation

Before an arrest, the police are often doing an investigation, whether the person is aware of that or not.  The police might do a very short investigation at the scene to gather what they believe to be evidence of their guilt.

For a car stop (sight arrest), the police might ask:

  • Their consent to search the car
  • Where they are going
  • What they are doing
  • Them to take field sobriety tests
  • Or make plain view observations of the car and of the driver

There are a lot of small details, fact-specific details, about what makes those arrests legal, and entirely based upon what those officers saw, observed, and did. Following an accusation, the police will investigate by taking witness statements, following up with any other documentation, medical reports, maybe other witnesses, and from that, they will be building a case against the suspect. They might not let the suspect know that they have a warrant or that they are investigating them until it is time to come for the arrest.

When investigating an incident in which the officers were not present to observe, they may reach out to a potential suspect and them that they have heard one side of the story concerning a fight that they were in and are considering pressing charges. That would be a great time for that person to contact a skilled defense attorney to help them deal with the case pre-arrest. They do not want to talk directly to the police because they might be waiving their right to silence and making a statement that might be taken out of context if some portion of it is misunderstood. They should have a lawyer speak on their behalf for this possible pre-arrest situation.

Understanding the Arrest Process

People will know that they are going to be arrested if they ask to leave, and they are not free to leave. If they are in their car and are being removed to the back seat of the police vehicle with the doors closed, they are not free to leave. They will most likely be arrested.

If the brief investigation performed by the police developed probable cause or found contraband (illegal substances), then they will be arrested. At that point, when they are being arrested, it is not the time to make a statement or explain themselves. That would be the time to start thinking about hiring a lawyer. They will not be able to reverse their waiver or challenge any of the illegal activities of the police if any of it was improper, but they started making statements unprompted to the officers.

Indicted Before An Arrest

Montgomery County indictments before arrest usually happen when it is not an ‘on sight arrest.’ If no one was seen committing a crime, the police investigation of the crime and evidence obtained could lead them to a certain suspect for which a warrant would be requested.

The police and prosecutors are given evidence, and from that evidence, they generally begin to generate a case against someone. They might receive surveillance footage from a burglary, which would lead to a suspect based on the video, and from there, they could develop their probable cause for a warrant.

This person might have a warrant out for their arrest, but because either the police are unable to find the person or they just have evaded arrest, they are not formally arrested yet. If they have a warrant out for them, they can talk to a defense attorney who could help with the process of turning themselves in. This can be very helpful when addressing a judge or even at a trial; the fact that someone willingly came to the police. The defense attorney can then walk through the steps of how to get out of police custody and out of jail.

Seek Help From a Criminal Defense Attorney

Following an indictment, it is best to reach out to a defense attorney as soon as possible. They can help you from the very beginning. They could ensure your rights are protected and help you build a defense against the accusations.

Call today to learn about how a defense attorney could help you understand the nuances of Montgomery County indictments.