October 18, 2017

Am I Under Arrest? – Knowing the Difference Between Arrest and Conviction

There is often a great deal of confusion regarding the difference between an arrest and a conviction of a crime.  An arrest is significantly different from a conviction and in both situations a criminal defense lawyer can be particularly helpful in dealing with the issues surrounding an arrest, and the following investigation.

An arrest is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “the act of taking or keeping in custody by authority of law.”  Literally an arrest means that a person was taken into police custody because there was probable cause to believe the person committed a crime.  An arrest is not a finding that the person is guilty or any crime, and it is not necessarily proof that the person has done anything wrong at all.  Instead, an arrest is an informal accusation of a criminal offense.



W. Todd Pascoe Law Criminal Defense Attorney Vancouver, WAFollowing an arrest, a citation (aka “ticket”) or an “information”, or a written statement prepared by a prosecutor, stands as a formal accusation. After the formal accusation is made, a judge will set bail and a following court date.  Bail is cash, a bond, or property that an arrested person gives to the court to ensure that he or she will appear in court during the assigned date.  The price of bail varies based on the severity of the suspected offense and the criminal record of the accused.  A criminal defense attorney can help set the conditions of bail and on rare occasions may potentially stop charges from ever being filed.

If the arrested person is found guilty or pleads guilty in court to any level of crime, they are generally considered to have a conviction.  A conviction could result in a fine, probation, assigned work crew (or community service with appropriate medical documentation), electronic home confinement (cost $15/day and requires a home telephone) or jail time depending of the severity of the crime.  Under United States and Washington Law, a person cannot be convicted of a crime unless they are found guilty beyond reasonable doubt, or elect to plead guilty.

Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side is vital in ensuring your best interests. Give us a call and let us know about your specific situation to see how we can help you today.

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