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The Process of a Criminal Case: The Arraignment

After an arrest will be the arraignment. It is here that the judge will state the charges against the defendant, ask how they plead, present what their rights are and ask if they need a lawyer to be provided. Depending on how the defendant pleads, the remainder of the case can go several ways. A plea may be not guilty, guilty or no contest. A judge may then decide the following:

  • To release the defendant on their own recognizance
  • Set bail
  • Refuse bail and require the defendant to remain in jail

Following the arraignment, the process can vary based on if the charge is a misdemeanor or a felony. If the defendant pleads not guilty in a misdemeanor case, the defense and prosecution will exchange information in what is referred to as "discovery." Pretrial motions can be filed at this point, the defendant can change their plea and the judge and lawyers may discuss options for resolving the case without trial.

In a felony case that is not dismissed or settled, the judge can hold a preliminary hearing where they will review the evidence to determine if it is strong enough to go to court. If they decide that it is, the Information document will need to be filed by the prosecutor. After this is done, a second arraignment will take place with the Information. During this time, the defendant can enter their plea and the case will move forward. Prior to going to trial, the discovery will take place when the two sides exchange information. Pretrial motions can also be filed by the defense or the prosecution, the plea of the defendant can be changed and the judge may speak with either lawyers about potential ways to resolve the case without a trial. For defense in your charges, contact our Pasadena criminal defense lawyer immediately.