Being charged with a crime can be incredibly stressful. Even if you’re just facing misdemeanor charges, it can change your life in ways that are uncomfortable. If you’ve gotten a misdemeanor hit and run on a parked car, then you need to know what to expect. What happens next will depend heavily on who your lawyer is, what approach they take and how reasonable the district attorney’s office is in your jurisdiction.
Going through an arraignment
After you are arrested, you will be set for what is called an arraignment. This is where the charges are read to you. You get to decide whether you want to plea guilty or not guilty. Before this happens, you’ll have a chance to hire an attorney. If you have the money to do so, then you can hire your own lawyer. You will need to research the best people in your community to handle hit and run cases. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you will be in line to receive a court-appointed attorney. This will either come from the public defender’s office if your jurisdiction has one or from the private defense bar. The state will in that case just pay the lawyer for you.
Your lawyer will like recommend that you enter a not guilty plea. You will then have to go through the bond process. How this goes will depend on a number of factors particular to your situation.
Getting through a bond hearing
If you have no criminal history, then you will likely get out on a personal recognizance bond. This means that you will not have to put up any money to get out of jail. However, if you fail later to show up at court, you may be required to pay. If you have a criminal history, then you may be required to post a bond of around $1,000. You can finance this through a bond company or you can pay it outright with a cashier’s check.
A case investigation
You can expect your lawyer to spend some time investigating the case. He will file discovery motions, subpoena records and try to figure out what defenses you might have. This investigation will give your lawyer a sense of how to proceed with your case.
Preparing for trial
Good lawyers prepare for trial even if they believe the trial may not come. You will likely hear from your lawyer every now and then as he keeps you apprised of what has happened in your case. In some instances, he may have questions you need to answer. As he prepares for trial, if you have a strong defense, he may be able to convince the district attorney to drop your case. Otherwise, he may be able to negotiate a plea agreement to get you probation or even a deal where the charges are later dropped. If the DA is not willing to give a good deal, your lawyer will likely take your case to trial.