1. I have been charged with a crime. What should I do?
Contact Mr. Heindel immediately at 216-621-4100. If you receive voice
mail, leave a message with a return phone number. He checks his
voice mail often and will return your phone call as soon as possible.
Also, you may you use the "Contact" section of the website and he will
return your email.
Do not confess or make any incriminating statements to anyone. You
have a right to be silent, and you should exercise it. The incriminating
statements of a criminal Defendant are often the strongest evidence
the prosecuting attorney has.
Be polite to the police without confessing. You do not want to argue
with the police about your guilt or innocence. You can save that for
Court. You do not want to create a scene with the police because it
could hurt your case. Indeed, it may even lead to additional charges.
2. What is a preliminary hearing?
This is a probable cause hearing in a felony case. The Court is
basically determining two issues: (1) whether there is a probable
cause to believe a crime has been committed; and (2) whether the
Defendant committed it.
The hearing is to be held within 10 days of arrest if the person is
confined, or within 15 days if the person is not confined. These time
frames are subject to extension.
The Defendant has the right to waive the preliminary hearing.
It is also common for the prosecuting attorney to dismiss the charges
before the preliminary hearing, and simply seek direct indictment of
the defendant by the Grand Jury.
3. What is an arraignment?
An Arraignment is basically a hearing where the Defendant enters a
plea to the charges against him. The basic pleas are not guilty, guilty
and no contest. Usually, the Defendant will plead not guilty at this
stage of the proceedings.
The Defendant also has the right to have the indictment or complaint
read to him, and to have the indictment or complaint for more than 24
hours before the arraignment. It is common to waive the 24 hour
notice and the reading of the indictment.
The final issue at an arraignment is the setting of bail.
4.What is a pre-trial?
In most criminal cases, you will have a number of pre-trial
conferences. These are conferences between Mr. Heindel and the
prosecuting attorney. At this stage , there are discussions concerning
the details of your case, including evidentiary issues and potential
Many cases are resolved at the pre-trial level. If your case is not
resolved, it will be scheduled for a trial.
5. Should I have a jury trial or bench trial?
In most criminal cases, you try the case to a jury. In misdemeanor
cases, the defendant must specifically demand a jury trial. If the case
involves some legal issue that will be best I understood by the Judge,
then it may be wise to waive a jury.
6. What is a pre-sentence investigation?
If a person is convicted of a crime, the Court may conduct a
pre-sentence investigation prior to sentence. This means that the
probation department will investigate the person's background
including their criminal record. For felony convictions, the Court must
conduct a "PSI" prior to placing the defendant on community control.
The Court is not required to do a PSI in misdemeanor cases.