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What happens after a person is arrested?

Generally, a person who has been arrested is brought to the police station where he/she is “booked” or processed. This means the police will take personal information and will use this information to determine if the individual has any warrants or a criminal history in order to evaluate whether or not he/she can be released from custody and whether the payment of a bail/bond is required. During the arrest procedure, officers may also seize property, records, and/or materials as evidence.

The police will then forward their reports and recommended charges to the District Attorney who is in charge of making the formal charging decision(s). If warranted, the DA will file a criminal complaint in court and the individual will be required to appear before a judge either in custody if no bail was given, or at a later date if the person was released from custody.

Does a person have to talk to the police after they are arrested?

No. The US constitution, as well as the Federal and State laws, do not require an individual who has been arrested to speak to the authorities, with the exception of providing basic information about one’s identity. The decision of whether or not to speak to the police is a very important one and it should be evaluated with your attorney as soon as possible. But it’s best to remain silent and invoke one’s right to counsel prior to any questioning.

If the person who called the police does not want to proceed with charges any longer, will everything be dismissed?

Not necessarily. Criminal charges are processed by the state/government and not by an individual. The fact that an alleged victim does not want to participate or testify, may convince the prosecutor to dismiss the charges, if there are no other witnesses or corroborating source of evidence against the defendant; or if the defendant has no prior criminal record. But this determination to dismiss a criminal charge rests with the prosecution, or in certain circumstances the judge, not with a witness. Charges are not simply dismissed, particularly in domestic violence cases, merely because a witness states that they do not want to testify.

Will I lose my right to own or possess a firearm if I am convicted of domestic violence or a domestic abuse-related crime?

Federal law bans those who have been convicted of certain crimes from ever possessing firearms. Included in those crimes are all felonies, and misdemeanor crimes involving domestic violence. The law also prohibits those subject to domestic violence restraining orders from having a firearm throughout the duration of the injunction period.

What is the difference between felonies and misdemeanors?

Criminal offenses are defined as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Felonies are more serious, and the penalties are more severe. The law can treat a misdemeanor as a felony if the defendant has a prior conviction for the same crime. For example, a first conviction for misdemeanor possession of marijuana carries a penalty of up to six months jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. A second conviction for the same offense is a Class I felony, which is punishable by a prison sentence of up to 3 1/2 hears and/or a $10,000 fine.