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icerose
06-17-2009, 04:48 PM
Okay in a story I'm getting ready to write a man robs a convienence store and in the process guns down the two cashiers and two patrons as well as injures a police officer before he's apprehended.

The next scene is him with his lawyer viewing the video tape of the robbery, it's all on tape, yet he wants to plead not guilty because he wants his day in court.

The next scene the lawyer is going on vacation, and is due to be in court as soon as his flight lands with this particular client.

Now what kind of time frame am I looking at from them being in that interrogation room to the courtroom. What happens first? Does he go to court, enter a plea and then the jury is picked out? Does a grand jury convien to see if there's enough evidence to proceed? I need to know just about how many people and what kind of people are going to be in that courtroom. I want it to be a fairly short amount of time like 6 weeks from his arrest to the courtroom scene, so at what stage would they be at?

Thanks!

RJK
06-17-2009, 05:38 PM
Each State is slightly different. In New York it goes as follows:
Arrest - Arraignment - no plea is accepted Bail is set and Arrestee is allowed time to find an attorney.
Preliminary hearing - Defendant may waive Grand Jury and accept Felony complaint. Defendant could plead guilty or negotiate a plea at any time from here forward.
Grand Jury - has a crime occurred?
Evidentiary hearings
Jury selection and trial
All during this time the defendant is either in jail or out on bail - your call.

icerose
06-17-2009, 07:13 PM
Each State is slightly different. In New York it goes as follows:
Arrest - Arraignment - no plea is accepted Bail is set and Arrestee is allowed time to find an attorney.
Preliminary hearing - Defendant may waive Grand Jury and accept Felony complaint. Defendant could plead guilty or negotiate a plea at any time from here forward.
Grand Jury - has a crime occurred?
Evidentiary hearings
Jury selection and trial
All during this time the defendant is either in jail or out on bail - your call.

He's definitely going to be in jail this whole time, he's a rather dangerous and explosive individual. So in roughly six weeks if he was assigned a lawyer, would he be at the Grand Jury (remember the video tape, there's no question there was a crime committed by him, not to mention 4 bodies) or the Evidentiary hearings?

jclarkdawe
06-17-2009, 10:49 PM
Okay in a story I'm getting ready to write a man robs a convienence store and in the process guns down the two cashiers and two patrons as well as injures a police officer before he's apprehended.

For your subsequent response, the charges, at a minimum, at this point are going to be four counts of felony murder, one count of attempted murder of a police officer, resisting arrest, and armed robbery. If the police can charge him with littering, they'll throw that in as well. Other than the littering, all charges are felonies. The felony murder charges are going to be capital offenses in nearly every state with capital punishment, so he's facing the death penalty. Press is going to be involved.

Within three business days, he will be taken to district court, and informed of his charges. In most states, he will not be allowed to enter a plea. The judge will appoint the public defender's office to represent him, letting them choose at least one death qualified attorney to represent him (there will be two attorneys in this case), but there will not be an attorney for him at this point.

Bail is not allowed in capital cases, except under unusual circumstances. Police will probably play the video in court, as it will play well on the evening news.

After the attorneys are appointed, they could request a bail hearing and a probable cause hearing. Usually these will occur in about ten to fifteen days. Bail would be about a two second argument, with the attorney trying to keep a straight face. Questionable whether a probable cause hearing would be worth the effort. Personally I'd forgo it, as the publicity from it isn't going to help with your jury selection.

The next scene is him with his lawyer viewing the video tape of the robbery, it's all on tape, yet he wants to plead not guilty because he wants his day in court.

It would be unlikely that the attorney and the defendant viewing the video together. The defendant would be held in maximum security and I don't see a compelling reason for the defendant to see it. (I'd request it, but I can't see a judge granting me the right.) The defendant would probably not be given a plea offer. Why would the district attorney do that? He's got an attempted cop killing and a publicity bonus. This sucker is going to trial.

This would be more likely just a meeting, in maximum security, which may or may not be a contact visit. It would be probably the first meeting, where the attorney is explaining the crap that's going to go down. Even in Florida and Texas, this case is going to take a while.

The next scene the lawyer is going on vacation, and is due to be in court as soon as his flight lands with this particular client.

Probably about thirty days after the arrest, the grand jury will meet and indict him. The prosecutor wants the grand jury for the publicity and the defense attorney wants to give the prosecutor every opportunity to screw up (you're not going to win this based on your brilliance).

After the grand jury indicts him, he would need to be brought in front of the superior court (watch out if you're basing this in NY -- supreme court is the superior court) for an arraignment. The defendant would be informed of the charges, bail could be argued, and a tentative trial schedule would be established.

This hearing (call it an arraignment) would be at about 6 weeks, depending upon the state and system. It's the type of hearing where the attorney wouldn't mind doing it after a vacation, as after your first couple, they're pretty much the same.

This hearing is going to have some press, some police to make sure the judge knows their attitude towards cop killers (even wannabes), and probably a few people from the public. If the prosecutor can get some of the victims' families, they'll be there as well.

Now what kind of time frame am I looking at from them being in that interrogation room to the courtroom. What happens first? Does he go to court, enter a plea and then the jury is picked out? Does a grand jury convien to see if there's enough evidence to proceed? I need to know just about how many people and what kind of people are going to be in that courtroom. I want it to be a fairly short amount of time like 6 weeks from his arrest to the courtroom scene, so at what stage would they be at?

Thanks!

I think I dealt with everything.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

icerose
06-17-2009, 11:03 PM
Thanks Jim. If I have any more questions I know who I'll be pming! :D

Aztecsince79
06-18-2009, 02:33 AM
Rose:

Here's the process in California:

He must be brought to court within three working days of the day he was booked into jail. If he was arrested Monday night, he might not be booked into jail until Tuesday morning, giving authorities a little more time.

After the arrest, the police will present the case in a meeting at the District Attorney's Office. On a case of this magnitude, the DA will immediately assign an experienced prosecutor, who will review the evidence and issue charges. In addition to the charges mentioned by Jim, in Calif. you will have allegations attached to those charges involving personal discharging of a firearm, which will add potential prison time. Most importantly, special circumstance allegations of multiple murder and murder during commission of a robbery, which will make the defendant eligible for life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.

That first hearing will be for arraignment to get the charges, enter a plea (always not guilty) and get bail. Almost certainly in this case the prosecutor will ask for and be granted a no-bail status for the defendant because of the danger to the community. Charges in Calif are presented to the defendant by his lawyer in his holding cell and not read aloud in court. The judge will also decide whether the defendant can hire his own lawyer or is eligible for a public defender.

Often in an arraignment, if he doesn't already have a private attorney, the public defender handling the calendar that day in the courtroom will do the arraignment, and the PD's Office will assign the actual experienced lawyer in a couple of days.

The judge at the arraignment will set dates for a readiness conference and a preliminary hearing. Standard for each is seven working days for the readiness conference and a couple more for the preliminary hearing.

At the readiness conference, the judge will meet the lawyers for both sides in chambers and see where they are in plea negotiations. In a case like yours, there will be no plea negotiations, so the defense lawyer will ask for the prelim to be set well into the future (at least 60-90 days). In a big city, this will be in a courtroom where there's almost nothing but a bunch of readiness conferences. The defendant will come out and the judge will ask him to agree to the new dates. Figure one or two more readiness conferences before the prelim.

At the prelim, again in a big city, they'll start in a courtroom where the judge makes sure everyone is ready on a calendar full of other prelims and trials. That judge will then assign those cases, including your prelim, to another courtroom.

In Calif., the prelim is for a judge to determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant a trial. Its not guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, it's whether enough probable cause exists to believe the defendant is guilty of the charges. A much lower standard.

The charges to this point are listed on a criminal complaint. If the prelim judge upholds the charges, the complaint is now called an "information," and the defendant has to enter his not guilty pleas again. Sometimes he'll do it right after the prelim, otherwise there will be an arraignment date set two week out -- usually for a complicated case. The judge will then set a readiness conference and trial date.

In my county, the DA waits until after the prelim (when the evidence is tested for the first time) before deciding whether to actually pursue the death penalty. The DA will meet with families of the victims and defense counsel. Defendants always get a second lawyer to assist in capital cases.

That's probably more than you need. There's little exceptions to everything I've written. My advice is to contact the DA's office in your county. If big enough, they'll have a public information officer who can guide you through the process. I would also suggest going to court hearings. They really aren't like CSI or Law & Order.

icerose
06-18-2009, 02:52 AM
Thanks. This is going to take place in a fairly big city, and I live in an extremely small town. I could ask my buddy in law enforcement in Kentucky to put me in touch with someone there, but I probably don't need anything that complicated as the court and trial itself is more of a backdrop. I just don't want spring flowers when it should be snow if you know what I mean.

RJK
06-18-2009, 05:53 PM
If the defendant can't make bail, the trial process is usually moved up, but it could still be six weeks to three months before his trial starts.