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Stages of a Misdemeanor Offense Stages of a Felony Offense

Here’s a basic guideline of the criminal case process. Your case depending on the county, court and judge may differ from below, but this is simply guideline of the process so you’ll have a general idea of what to may expect for a case with felony charges.

FELONY – An offense carrying a sentence of one year or greater in state prison.

Stages of a Felony Offense:

Preliminary Hearing

In this court hearing, the judge decides, not whether the defendant is “guilty” or “not guilty,” but whether there is “probable cause” to proceed to the next stage in the case. The judge uses the “probable cause” legal standard which determines whether the prosecution has produced enough evidence to show there is a strong suspicion the defendant committed the crime(s) charged. Many times if you are on Bond or if your case has been indicted by the Grand Jury there will not be a preliminary hearing.


IT MAY NOT BE MANDATORY for you to appear at your Arraignment (Please confirm with us).

All pretrial motions, including demurrers and special pleas, shall be filed within ten days after the date of arraignment, unless the time for filing is extended by the court.

What to Expect at the Preliminary Hearing

In reaching this probable cause decision, the judge listens to arguments from the prosecutor and from the defendant (usually through his or her attorney). The prosecutor will call witnesses to testify, and can introduce physical evidence in an effort to convince the judge that the case should go to trial. The defense usually cross-examines the prosecutor’s witnesses and calls into question any other evidence presented against the defendant, seeking to convince the judge that the prosecutor’s case is not strong enough, so that the case against the defendant must be dismissed before trial.

Arraignment in Superior Court

At this time, you are again formally advised of the charges against you and your constitutional rights and future court dates are assigned. The prosecutor may also file other additional charges they believe related to this case.

Pre-Trial Conference

Your Criminal Defense Lawyer will have the opportunity to continue discussions with the prosecutor in attempt to reach a favorable plea bargain sometimes including the Judge in this process.

Pre-Trial Motions

After the preliminary hearing and before a criminal case goes to trial, the prosecutor and the defense attorney usually appear before a criminal court judge and make pre-trial motions - - this is an effort to set the boundaries for trial should one take place, and for arguments that certain evidence should be kept out of the trial, to determine whether certain persons must or cannot testify, or that the case should be dismissed altogether. If the matter is unresolved at this juncture the only remaining stage of the process would be a trial.

Any item pertaining to action on your case will be discussed between you and your attorney.

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