The process of arrest in Philadelphia starts with an actual physical arrest of an individual. An individual can be arrested on-site which is when a person is arrested at the time of the alleged offense on the site of the alleged offense. A person can also be arrested by warrant which is when a person is arrested at a later time after a judge reviews facts by police and signs a document giving the police authority to arrest you. But in either case, the actual arrest is the first step.
After an individual is arrested in Philadelphia, that individual is taken to the nearest police district for processing. These districts are located in every area of the city in more than thirty locations. However, the main location is the police administration building and headquarters located at 750 Race St. in Philadelphia PA located just four blocks from my office and Independence Mall.
The next step in Philadelphia is the arraignment. And that’s the initial arraignment where an individual lets a bail commissioner know whether they have a private attorney or not and that commissioner, based upon the facts of the case, sets a bail amount to preferably help the individual to post bail and be released.
The next step in Philadelphia is a preliminary hearing where the government has the burden to show more likely than not the crime was committed and more likely than not that the crime involves the individual charged. Credibility or believability never comes into play at this stage.
The next stage is a second arraignment where a person enters an informal not guilty plea. An attorney is often there to do that on his or her client’s behalf. The next step is a pre-trial conference where a matter is discussed and per trial offers are given by the government to resolve the criminal case. The next step obviously is a trial where an individual in Philadelphia has a right to elect to be tried by judge or by jury.
And, finally once such trial takes place, even if it was successful in some ways and unsuccessful in others, post-trial matters or appeals can be taken to the Superior and supreme courts in Pennsylvania.
Once charges are filed, the process in Philadelphia moves fairly quickly, so it’s very important to have an attorney involved from the very outset of a criminal case. From informal arraignment where a bail is set to the preliminary hearing, formal arraignment, pretrial, trial, and post-trial stages the process can last anywhere between three months to up to two years or more.
For the most part, most cases are resolved within the first six months of an arrest, but more serious cases can take more than two years.