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Criminal Case Process

Criminal Case Process

The criminal law process in Missouri can be extremely complicated, and the consequences of a conviction can be serious regardless of whether this is a first offense or you have a previous criminal record. Our firm is here to assist you every step of the way in the criminal law process.

Complaint and Arrest

Before a person is arrested for a crime in Missouri, the criminal law process may begin with an investigation. Federal crimes, in particular, can involve extensive investigations before an arrest is ever made.

Once law enforcement officials and prosecutors believe they have enough evidence against a person, the next step in the criminal law process is to seek an arrest warrant that will result in an arrest. Warrantless arrests are also lawful in many circumstances where law enforcement officials have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed.

Contact an Attorney

If you have any reason to believe you are under investigation, it is time to hire a criminal defense lawyer to begin working on your defense. When you are facing any kind of criminal charges in Missouri, it is essential to have an experienced Missouri criminal defense attorney who can represent you and help you to build a strong defense for your case.

There may be many possible defense strategies that will be applicable to your case, from an unlawful search to entrapment. You should know that you have a right to an attorney, and you have the right to remain silent under U.S. law.


After a person is arrested, the judge will determine if they can be released until the charges are resolved, and what requirements must be met. This process is known as setting bail. If the person is not a threat to others, and the court believes they are likely to show up for future proceedings, they may be released on “personal recognizance” with few or no conditions. For many criminal charges and situations, a surety bond must be paid, and the judge will set the amount of bond.

Preliminary Hearing

Some criminal cases in Missouri—felonies in particular—will next go to a preliminary hearing. Depending upon the case, the defendant may be able to waive a preliminary hearing, yet it is critical to avoid making any decisions or appearing before a judge without a lawyer. A grand jury might replace a preliminary hearing in some cases. In a grand jury, a panel of citizens hears evidence and decides whether there is enough reason for the case to move forward to trial.


Next, if a case moves forward from a preliminary hearing or grand jury, a defendant will be arraigned. At this stage, you must enter a plea of not guilty, not guilty by reason of insanity, or guilty. Our Missouri defense attorneys can discuss the best option for your case to help you beat the charges.

Discovery & Plea Bargaining

The process of finding and sharing information about the case is known as discovery. Each side must find and evaluate the evidence and witnesses that will be used at trial and follow careful guidelines about sharing that information with the other party when required.

As more details are revealed about the case, defendants may be offered a plea agreement or suggest one to the prosecutor, in which the state agrees to reduce the charges or penalties in exchange for a guilty plea. This is referred to as plea bargaining, and it can occur before or even during a trial. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you work toward a more favorable plea agreement and help explain your options if an agreement is offered.

Pretrial Conference

The pretrial conference, also known as a pretrial hearing, is the final opportunity to reach an agreement on the charges or plea before the case goes to trial. It also gives both sides a chance to ask the judge for more time to gather evidence or prepare if needed. If a defendant changes their plea at the pretrial conference, sentencing may also happen immediately, but not always. If the case is proceeding to trial, a trial date will be set.


Trials involve many different elements, but this is the stage at which the prosecution will present its case and your lawyer will present your defense. Evidence can be entered and witnesses can testify and be cross-examined. Many criminal law cases involve a jury. For a conviction, the jury must be unanimous.

Appeal and Sentencing

Sentencing occurs when a person has been convicted of an offense. Sentences can vary greatly depending upon the specific criminal conviction and your previous criminal record, as well as mitigating or aggravating factors.

After a conviction and sentencing, it may be possible to appeal with assistance from a criminal defense lawyer in Missouri.

Seek Advice from a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Missouri

If you are at any stage of the criminal law process in Missouri, from being under investigation to facing a trial or seeking an appeal, one of our experienced Missouri criminal defense attorneys can speak with you today about your case. Contact Scott A. Hamblin to learn more.

He’s On Your Side

Scott will keep you up to date on all important developments in your case. When you need to get in touch with him, he will be there to answer your call or return it promptly.

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