What To Expect From Your Criminal Law Case

Every single criminal law case is different, even when the surface facts seem similar. The reason for that is that no two individuals are exactly alike, whether they are the people being charged, the people doing the charging, the investigators or even the victims. Everything is a variable; things get complex fast.

At Whiteaker & Wilson, PC d/b/a Law Office of Stuart P. Huffman, our attorneys have decades of experience with criminal law issues across Missouri. They understand how prosecutors build cases, and they regularly protect our clients’ rights so that they can focus on their lives. Our lawyers are here to defend you but also help you understand the criminal law process so that you can make informed decisions. To that end, let’s look at the general stages of a criminal case, below.


An arrest can happen before or after an investigation takes place. For example, a drunk driving arrest typically happens prior to an investigation. In other cases, such as financial crimes or murders, considerable time is spent investigating before a target is located and an arrest is made.

Regardless, an arrest is when the state takes you into custody and files charges against you. While it is possible for police to arrest someone without a charge, an individual cannot be held without one.


This stage is when the police and the state – and, in some cases, the federal government – build a case against you. This is the evidence-gathering phase in which you may be interviewed, face search warrants and suffer other disruptions to your life.


In the pretrial phase, prosecutors and your legal team file motions and review evidence. Often, there are tense negotiations around a plea deal. Evidence is reviewed and suppressed per trial rules, and the judge sets the final date. This is also when jury selection takes place.


This is the court date. It typically can take a significant amount of time before you see a courtroom because of how busy criminal courts are. However, if you do not reach a plea deal, then it is your right to have a trial.


The verdict is the nearly final word on your case. It comes after the trial, witness testimony and evidence. The jury decides whether you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

However, a guilty verdict is not necessarily the end, as you have the right to file an appeal if there was some error during the trial.

Your Legal Team Impacts Every Stage. Pick One You Can Trust

Our lawyers believe that their experience and diligence lead to successful outcomes. They work hard for you and listen to you about your worries and struggles. They are here to help you. Call us at 417-413-5858 for a free consultation, or send us an email.