The first issue that comes up in any serious criminal case is bail. In both state and federal court the accused may be held without bail for serious narcotics offenses, sexual assaults, and violent offenses. Bail or detention is the very first issue that comes up in a criminal case. If it is handled poorly, it can result in indefinite detention behind bars while the case is pending even though the accused is presumed innocent.
At a bail hearing the government will highlight what they think they know about a case. They will take every opportunity to communicate to the judge how bad the alleged crime is and why the accused would be a danger to the community and/or a flight risk if released.
The defense has to be prepared to throw cold water on the case right away and at least introduce some doubt into the judge’s mind at the bail hearing. In addition, the defense has been prepared to give the judge a complete picture of the accused. The defense lawyer should be able to tell the judge about the accused’s life, his or her employment, family ties, education, and community involvement. Communicating to the judge everything about the accused helps defang the argument from the prosecution that the accused is a danger to the community.
All of this happens right away. So it is imperative that anyone accused of a serious felony get an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.