Being charged with a crime can happen with or without your knowing it. If, for instance, you’re charged with a crime after having left the scene of where it happened, you may find out that you’re charged a bit later when a warrant is issued for your arrest. This may happen, for instance, if you’re charged with disorderly conduct after leaving the scene of an altercation you participated in. You may also be charged on the spot, such as if you’re caught driving intoxicated.
After you’re arrested, you’ll be taken to a station and you’ll be booked. This will involve getting your identification, having your fingerprints taken and contacting a Birmingham criminal attorney, if you’re in custody for long enough or aren’t bailed out. A court date will be set for you and you’ll be arraigned, which means that you’ll have to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest.
You’ll be able to speak to a lawyer before this happens and they can advise you on how to plead in the case. If you plead not guilty, you will have to go to trial to have your case heard. Not guilty pleas are entered both when the defendant is not guilty and when the defendant is certain that there isn’t enough evidence to convict them. No contest means that you’re not going to fight the charges, but that you’re not admitting guilt and that you’re accepting that you’re going to get convicted for the crime. It also means that the truth of the crime is not established beyond a reasonable doubt, such as would happen in a jury trial. Guilty means admitting that you did the crime you were charged with and accepting punishment for it. A lawyer can advise you on which plea you should enter when you go to your first appearance