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Theft Arrest Process in DC

After being arrested for theft, the process that happens inside the police station is extensive. An individual will be subject to various procedures such as fingerprinting, being held overnight, questioning and any other steps police find necessary. The theft arrest process requires an experienced attorney who knows how to handle theft cases in the District of Columbia and can assist in preparing the best defense for the accused individual.

Process of an Arrest

The theft arrest process usually takes place in one of two different ways. The first is when law enforcement becomes involved immediately after the incident occurs. This typically takes place on the same day as the alleged crime, so that an arrest can be made by the police when the police have the information in front of them. In this case, the arrest can be made before any arrest warrants are sought.

The second way an arrest will take place is when the police are not able to secure an arrest right away and must conduct a follow-up investigation. These require an arrest warrant signed off by a judge. At that point, police will locate the accused person and arrest them.

When the person has a lawyer who has already spoken with the police, the police may contact the lawyer to arrange a self-surrender. Instead of being dragged out of his or her home or place of work, the person can go with counsel to the police station to self-surrender at a time convenient for everyone.

Timing of an Arrest

The timing of an arrest depends on the facts and circumstances of the specific case. When the police are involved right away and believe they have enough evidence to establish probable cause that a crime was committed by the person they have, they can make the arrest at that time. However, the process of a theft arrest can be a little more complicated.

There may be a situation where the police are not able to apprehend the person right away because they need to investigate further. They may need to wait for confirmation of the identity of the suspect, such as with a photo or lineup with the witnesses. They may also need to locate information about a specific person they have, but that they are not sure committed the crime. That way, the police can help to prove that the specific individual was at the location at a specific time, and committed the specific act.

The kind of follow-up evidence needed varies on a case to case basis. In any event, once the evidence and information are secured and the police believe they have established probable cause, they will go forward and make the arrest.

Booking Process

An individual needs to be aware that once they are arrested, they are processed at the police station. They may or not may be released from the police station and it is unlikely the police are going to give them their one phone call. However, an individual does not have the right to a phone call in the District of Columbia before release. Most likely, the individual will be required to wait to be released or taken to court.

Once someone is arrested, they are taken to the police station of that district where they are photographed and fingerprinted. The theft arrest process includes police looking into the individual’s arrest record to see if they, based on their identifying information, have any active warrants out for their arrest from any jurisdiction.

Conditions and Release

Sometimes, the police ask the individual questions. They try to get the individual to admit to having committed one or more crimes. Depending on the facts of the situation and the type of offense, whether it is a felony charge or the person is already on probation or release, the police get a decision from their supervisors whether this is somebody who can be released from the police station.

Release on Bail

Anyone who is arrested on a criminal charge in Washington DC should know that there is no bail or bond in DC. Under the Bail Reform Act, bond was abolished in DC. When an individual is not immediately released from the police station after they are processed, they are taken before a court for the judge to set the conditions of release

A person will be required to go to court for any charge in which the police believe that a felony has been committed, if the individual is already on release for other criminal charges, or has warrants out for other charges. Because there is no bond, the individual may not be allowed to secure their release in aggravated criminal charges.

A judge may decide to not allow an individual to be released prior to trial if they believe the individual is:

  • A flight risk or
  • A danger to themselves or others, or
  • Is charged with certain enumerated dangerous offenses.

However, most often in theft cases the charged will be released with conditions. Conditions of release can include:

  • Checking in by phone or in person with pre-trial services,
  • Weekly drug testing,
  • Or heightened supervisions such as house arrest, GPS monitoring, or even curfews.

However, in a standard theft arrest process, it is expected that someone who is charged with a non-violent offense will be released with conditions.

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