When you’re confronted with the possibility of a criminal court proceeding, if it’s your first time in the system, the terminology and procedures can be confusing and frightening. Of paramount importance is making sure you’ve got Las Vegas criminal defense on your side to help you navigate through the process and to ensure your rights under the law are not abused, neglected, or “forgotten.” Hopefully, you’ve been consulting with your attorney since the moment you got your mandatory phone call, but if you haven’t, the time to get one is now.

The first step is your arraignment. This is where the charges against you are read and you are given an opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, the process skips directly to sentencing. If you do not, the judge will examine the type of crime and the likelihood you may be a flight risk and may or may not elect to give you bail, which is an amount of money usually put up by a bail bondsman or your family to ensure you will return for trial.

If bail is denied, you will next go to pretrial confinement at the county jail until your trial begins. If you are released on your own recognizance or on bail, it is very important you keep in touch with your attorney and your bail bondsman, if any. If you “jump” bail, whoever put up the money is liable to pay the full amount, and bail bondsmen employ bounty hunters to bring you back.

During the pretrial process, you and your attorney will consult on the best way to approach your case. This is where you will rehearse your side of the story and make sure any holes in your testimony are plugged. This is also where you will have the chance to explain away any evidence that ties you to the crime in question. More cases are lost during pretrial than at any other point, because this is where your strategy is honed or falls apart.

Your attorney is there to advise you, and it’s up to them to make sure they know the case law that supports your argument. During your trial, the prosecutor will be doing their best to make sure you pay a steep fine or spend a long time deprived of your freedom, so it’s important to have a Las Vegas attorney who knows and understands the law working for you.