Receiving a criminal complaint can be a scary experience, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the criminal process. This post is intended to explain the steps from the fruition of a criminal case to the initial appearance. The first step in a Wisconsin prosecution is the referral of charges from the arresting agency to the prosecutor’s office. If the prosecutor decides the case has merit, the case will be charged and a criminal complaint will be issued. If the defendant is not in custody, this will be when an arrest warrant or criminal summons will be issued. In most cases, the defendant’s first appearance in court will be at the initial appearance. At this proceeding, the court advises the defendant of the charges against him or her and gives the prosecution an opportunity to serve the defendant with the criminal complaint. Also, by this point in the criminal process, the Wisconsin Public Defender’s Office will have interviewed the defendant before the court date to determine whether he or she is indigent. If the defendant is not indigent, he or she will have to retain private counsel to be represented.
Retaining an attorney before the initial appearance has many benefits. An attorney can review your case for possible defenses and motions to suppress critical evidence the prosecution may need for conviction. Furthermore, having an attorney at your side can relieve you of the emotional burdens of the criminal court process. Just because you are charged with a crime doesn’t mean you are guilty. Call McAvoy & Murphy today if you are either under investigation for or have been charged with a crime. Our free consultation can inform you of the best course of action.