If you are being charged with a criminal offense, you usually don’t have notice of that until an officer or Sherriff is knocking on your front door. But, in some circumstances, if the police department is still in the preliminary stages of their investigation and have yet to decide whether or not they are going to charge you with an offense, you may find yourself in a unique position. The earlier you cooperate with the investigating police department, depending on the charged offense(s), it may be more likely that you will be able to reach a favorable settlement. If a police officer contacts you in an effort to collect information related to an incident, contact an attorney right away. Your attorney may be able to find out ahead of time if complaints against you will issue, therefore, may have the opportunity to accompany you to the police department to turn yourself in. This will not only spare you the stress of being arrested in front of your family or coworkers, but also, will demonstrate to the prosecuting officials that you are willing to cooperate in an effort to resolve the issues at hand.
Nearly all family law cases are heard by a judge in the Circuit Court-Family Division. The Family Division handles cases involving divorce. It also handles cases involving parenting actions between unmarried persons. Parenting actions used to be called “custody” or “visitation” cases. Parents in divorce or parenting actions involving children under the age of 18 must attend an initial session at the court house known as a “First Appearance.” The First Appearance session is scheduled in a few weeks after a case is filed at the Family Division court. The First Appearance session is held in a court room with a Family Division judge providing information about the Court process and the important role of parents in the process. Parents are provided with written information about the court process, mediation and how to work toward resolving their case without litigation. Parents are also provided information about scheduling their attendance at the Child Impact Program. All parents of minor children must attend this mandatory parenting class. At the end of the First Appearance session, parents schedule the next event in their case – either a case manager conference, mediation, or a court hearing. Attendance by parents at the First Appearance session is mandatory, unless specifically excused by the Court. No action is usually taken by the Court until the parents attend the First Appearance.