Many people aren’t sure of what to expect after they have been arrested, which can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. In the event that you are ever taken into custody, it’s important to understand the steps of a criminal case.
Within a few days after your arrest, you will appear in court before the judge for your arraignment. The judge will inform you of the criminal charges against you and ask you to enter a plea. Defendants can either plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. The judge may also decide to set bail at the arraignment or announce that you are being held without bail.
If you have been charged with a felony, a preliminary hearing may be scheduled in your case following the arraignment. During this hearing, the prosecutor will present the evidence that you committed a crime to the judge. The judge will carefully review the evidence to determine if the case against you is strong enough to warrant a trial. If the judge does not believe there is sufficient evidence, the charges against you will be dropped.
Both sides will begin preparing to take the case to trial. Before the trial begins, there will be a pre-trial conference regarding your case. During this conference, the defense and the prosecution may negotiate the terms of a plea bargain for the defendant. This conference is also used to file motions, which are requests submitted to the judge asking him to rule on a certain matter. For instance, a criminal defense attorney may file a motion to have certain evidence excluded from the case. The judge will typically rule on these motions during this pre-trial conference.
If you do not accept a plea bargain, the case will proceed to trial. Your criminal defense attorney will work with the prosecution and the judge to carefully select an unbiased jury that will be responsible for deciding your fate. After the jury has been finalized, the trial will start.
The trial will begin with an opening statement from the prosecution, followed by an opening statement from the defense. Each side will then have the opportunity to call witnesses, introduce evidence, and present their case, with the prosecution going first. Each witness will be cross-examined by the other side’s attorney before stepping down from the stand.
After both sides have presented their cases, they will each get to make a closing argument to the jury. Then, the jury will be given instructions and sent to deliberate. The jury members will return to the courtroom when they have reached a verdict, which will be read to the court.
If you plead guilty or no contest or you are found guilty in court, you will have to attend another hearing for sentencing. This is where you will be informed of any fines, community service, probation, jail or prison time.
If you have been arrested, contact Reisch Law Firm as soon as possible. Our attorneys can represent you throughout the entire legal process to defend you against the charges and ensure you are making the best decisions for your future. Schedule a free consultation by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.