Criminal Cases

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Sight Arrest

Criminal cases can start with what is called a “sight arrest”, which is when law enforcement believes that probable cause exists to make an arrest.  Under such circumstances, police may be conducting surveillance for drug activity or they may by happenstance while on patrol, observe activity which is believed to be illegal.  Under such circumstances the police may make an arrest.  Typically there is little or no time to hire an attorney until after arrest and after arraignment and after bail is set.


Criminal cases can also start with an investigation.  Under such circumstances, the crime was committed and there were no “sight arrests”.  Law enforcement will turn the case over to special agents or detectives who will investigate.  Investigations may take days, weeks, months and in some cases years.  Sometimes a grand jury will be used by law enforcement to investigate or to charge individuals.  In such cases you may or may not know that there is an ongoing investigation.  There is no right to know if there is or is not an investigation.  In some cases you may be served with a grand jury subpoena or a target letter.  

In any case, whether it is a “sight arrest” for a simple criminal act or serious criminal act, or whether it is a complex federal investigation, it is vital to your rights and your freedom to immediately seek the services of a qualified and experienced criminal attorney as soon as possible. Never speak to law enforcement without speaking to an attorney first.  

Time is almost always of the essence when you are under arrest or investigation.  Getting the right advice and representation, quickly, may make the difference between getting bail or not, or getting convicted or not.  

It is vitally important to hire an attorney immediately upon learning that you are the target of a criminal investigation. If you are unexpectedly arrested and do not have the opportunity to meet with an attorney before being arrested, it is vital that your loved ones contact an attorney immediately after being arrested. 

In state court cases you will have at most about 15-20 hours before you are arraigned and the commissioner sets bail. Commissioners are not judges and typically they are not attorneys. If you are able to hire an attorney before you are arraigned, your attorney can represent you at your arraignment before the commissioner. In PA, specifically, Philadelphia, the bail set by the commissioner is immediately appealable or reviewable by a Municipal Court judge or a Common Pleas Court judge. If bail is not attainable after the preliminary arraignment and a bail reduction motion can be filed with the court and heard in a few days. If no motion is filed to reduce bail, a bail reduction can be orally raised at the first preliminary hearing listing.  In murder cases you typically do not get bail.

Federal Cases

In federal court cases you can be held without bail.  The government has the right to request a continuance of what is called a detention hearing if they are seeking pretrial detention.  The federal rules allow the government 3 business days after your arrest to a hearing.  If the government is seeking detention they will file a motion stating the reasons for seeking detention.  If you are ordered detained, there is no amount of money that you can pay to be released. 


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