Criminal Process

This is your first court appearance in the criminal process. In a Felony case you have the right to be Arraigned within 48 hours of your Arrest (if you are in custody). If you are out of custody, then you were most likely Bailed to Appear or Cited to Appear on a date outside that 48 hour requirement. At your Arraignment, the judge will ask if you have an attorney and whether you can afford to hire your own attorney. If you cannot, you will be appointed a Public Defender. If you can afford to hire an Attorney, he or she will appear on that date or the judge will likely afford you a reasonable continuance (2-4 weeks) to hire counsel of your choice.

Pretrial Conference
Oftentimes, this will be the next court date that is set for your attorney to obtain the necessary discovery (police reports, 911 calls, photos, medical records, etc.) This also provides a pre-preliminary hearing opportunity for your attorney to reach an acceptable plea bargain in your case. Once your attorney has obtained the discovery needed to make a decision and/or a plea bargain is not acceptable, the case will be set for a preliminary hearing. You have a right to a preliminary hearing within 10 court days and a ruling within 60 calendar days. If you are out of custody, your attorney may often request that you waive (or give up) these time limitations.

Preliminary Hearing
Applicable to felony cases only. This is your first evidentiary hearing where the District Attorney must present evidence sufficient that a reasonable person would believe that a crime was committed and that you are the person that committed said crime. This is a low standard of proof and in most cases, if there is any evidence, the judge will “Hold You to Answer” on the charges.

Arraignment on the Information
An Information is the charging document that must be filed within 15 calendar days from your being Held to Answer on the Felony Complaint. In a felony case you have a right to be Arraigned on the Information.

Jury Trial
In a Misdemeanor case you have a right to a jury trial within 30 days if you are in custody and 45 days if you are out of custody.  In a Felony case, you have a right to demand a jury trial within 60 days from the date of your Arraignment on the Information. The first day of trial will consist of Jury Selection (also known as voire dire).  Once a jury has been selected, both sides will deliver Opening Statements followed by Prosecution evidence, the Defense evidence and then Closing Arguments.  Depending on the complexity of you case, a jury trial will take anywhere from two days to several months.