Criminal Hearings & Descriptions

Arraignment (Criminal Proceeding)
This is the 1st appearance in court on a criminal charge where a defendant is advised of the nature of the charges, their constitutional rights, and enters a plea. The plea determines how the case will move forward. At arraignment, unless the defendant appears with a lawyer, the court advises the defendant on the record of the right to trial by jury, if applicable, and of the right to be represented by a lawyer and to have an appointed lawyer if the defendant cannot afford one.

Pretrial Conference (Criminal Proceeding)
The pretrial conference is scheduled upon a plea of not guilty and establishes if the case needs to be set for a motion hearing prior to trial, or if it will proceed directly to trial. It also establishes if the case will be a trial by jury or bench trial (before the judge only). Additionally, the defendant must indicate if they are proceeding pro se (without attorney representation) or if they are represented by private counsel or by public defender.

Trial (Criminal Proceeding)
The trial is the process that determines the outcome of a criminal case when a plea of not guilty has been entered. There are generally 5 phases of the jury trial process:
  1. Jury selection
  2. Opening statements
  3. Presentation of evidence
  4. Closing statements
  5. Jury deliberations
A defendant can waive his/her right to a jury trial and opt for a trial before the judge only - this is referred to as a bench trial.

Sentencing (Criminal Proceeding)
Upon a finding by the court of guilty on a criminal violation this proceeding is the precise determination of the sentence which may include:
  • Any probation or special conditions of sentence
  • Costs
  • Fine
  • Jail term
  • Restitution