What to Expect in Criminal Court

Updated on 02/21/2023 / Under

When an offender is taken to trial in a criminal court, the victim is most of the time asked to bear witness. Mentioning one's trauma in public can feel unbelievably scary or hard for anyone. Everyone responds distinctively when it comes to publicly sharing their experience, and testifying in court is not an exception.

Being knowledgeable about the procedure and what assistance is accessible can help anyone experience more surety and preparedness. Continue reading beneath about the criminal process and what to expect from a trial.

If you need help with any charge contact a skilled criminal defense attorney today at (312) 756-8652.

The Typical Criminal Case Timeline

The average criminal case follows the following time frame:

1. Arrest

Criminal cases can often start when police detain a suspect, whether it be in response to a call for help, during a traffic stop, or in the course of an investigation. In some jurisdictions, officers must get an arrest warrant in many situations. The police reports and witness statements will be given by a police officer at the police station. A criminal history will be accounted for.

2. Bail

When a person is apprehended by the police, a judge or magistrate may grant bail. In determining the extent of bail, the adjudicator may examine factors such as the gravity of the supposed transgression and whether there is a good chance that the person will appear in court throughout their trial.

a man on the stand during a criminal trial

The magistrate might order an individual to be held without bail if arguments heavily oppose his or her release. In some cases, such as minor offenses or an individual with no criminal background, a justice can permit the defendant’s release with no bail, or on their own reliability. This necessitates a contractual agreement to return to court for all hearings.

3. Arraignment

During the arraignment, which is the defendant's first court appearance, the judge will read out the criminal charges against them. For further information about arraignment, please see below. You will be assigned a court-appointed attorney or hire a private one with a presentation of evidence to help support you.

4. Indictment

Prosecutors may pursue formal charges in many different forms, depending on the district. They can submit information or a complaint, or they may petition for a grand jury indictment. Since federal charges necessitate an indictment, grand jury sessions are mostly conducted in private with only the government allowed to present evidence.

Conversely, preliminary hearings on information or complaint in a contentious trial where an accused may confer proof to defy the existence of probable cause.

5. Preliminary Hearings and Pre-Trial Motions

The vast majority of felonious cases require a span during which the two sides build up their arguments while also haggling over a prospective admission of guilt. Both parties might bring petitions looking to remove specific issues before the litigation.

A defendant may submit motions to hinder proof gotten in infringement of their rights, which could be excluded under the exclusionary specification. Any common pleas are made during this time by your private attorney or court-appointed attorney. Just ahead of the lawsuit, either side can present pretrial motions.

6. Trial Phase

A defendant has the right to a jury trial for felony trials and a number of other state proceedings but not civil proceedings. Instead of trusting the jury, they can decide for a bench trial, whereupon the judge will figure out questions of law and truth. Initially, the state puts forward its case, followed by the defendant with both parties showcasing physical evidence and having their final arguments later on.

Learn More: What Your Criminal Defense Lawyer Shiould Be Doing

Throughout the trial course of action, one might see law enforcement documents, testimony from authorities, witness declarations delivered in court, plea bargains, and more. Closing arguments are made before the sentencing.

7. Sentencing

If the defendant is found with a guilty plea by the trial judge or jury, the court will then determine an appropriate minimum or maximum sentence. The Federal and state sentencing guidelines typically set out minimum and maximum sentences, along with factors that can be taken into account by the court in making a decision.

You will receive your sentence of jail time. It may also hold a separate sentencing hearing, where the prosecution presents arguments for a stricter sentence and the defense may present evidence of any mitigating circumstances that could warrant leniency.

8. Appeal

As part of the criminal justice process, a defendant may petition an appellate court to review the conviction. In doing so, they must identify specific errors or abuses by the trial court. The appellate court can make a ruling to approve, reject, or request a retrial of the case based on their decision.

The Purpose of Arraignment

The intention of the initial arraignment is to satisfy the accused's right to Become familiar with the accusations they face. A defendant cannot be detained eternally without being informed of their charges and having the capacity to look for freedom from custody. An arraignment occurs very early in the case. It is usually the defendant's first display before the judge soon after they have been arrested. It takes place in an open courtroom, not a private one.

Prosecutors will file initial charges in the case but may add additional offenses as they learn more during their investigations. Following the arraignment, parties typically consider a plea agreement. Having competent legal counsel to provide sound advice on these potential plea deals is important for your well-being.

The Length of the First Court Date

At the initial criminal court hearing, the judge will allow a few minutes for each case. Since many arraignments are scheduled in one day, the judge will move quickly through them. However, due to the volume of cases heard that day, you may need to wait an hour or longer before your case is called. Your district attorney will go over your criminal charges and provide legal advice on the civil trials.

What Happens in a Misdemeanor Court Case?

When it comes to misdemeanors, the criminal court process may involve jail time, a driver's license suspension, fines, court costs, community service, probation, and restitution (compensation to the victim for damage or injury). Payments and incarcerations start immediately at the date of sentencing unless otherwise specified by the judge.

If your judgment includes a deadline for future payments, it will also include future court dates and times for a review hearing. You will have to appear at a review hearing to prove good cause as to why you should not be held in contempt of the court if you do not meet the deadlines. If you are found in contempt of court, you may be required to pay a fine and/or serve jail time. 

a witness testifying during a criminal case

If you fail to comply with the terms of your probationary period, the prosecutor may file a motion to have the court declare that you have violated probation. As a result, the court can impose further fines, extend your jail sentence,, or enforce penalties from the initial hearing.

What Can You Expect in Court Proceedings When You Are Charged With a Felony?

At the outset, the defendant is made aware of their legal rights and informed about the charges against them. Second, if necessary, a public defender is appointed to advise and support the defendant. Finally, the court determines whether or not releasing them on bail would be safe.

At the close of this proceedings, various parties charged with a felony have oftentimes been dismissed. These individuals have either put forth an investment to guarantee they are coming back for trial and other hearings, or else they have been released on provisions that entail their pledge to come back for later hearings or the hearing.

Those stipulations may incorporate the necessity that they do not make direct contact with witnesses in the prosecution. In certain situations, the defendant will be detained without bail.

At times, a case may go to a grand jury in place of being taken through the usual criminal court undertaking with a jury. A grand jury is composed of twenty-three (23) inhabitants from the same judicial district who convene to survey the proof against those who could be charged with an offense.

The work of the grand jury isn't disclosed to the people or, for the most part, to the litigant. Despite the fact that a grand jury process isn't an orthodox criminal court procedure, it is a grave matter. As with any examination, you must speak truthfully.

Contact Ktenas Law Today!

To have the best outcome possible during the trial process, call our criminal defense attorneys at (312) 756-8652 for a free consultation at Ktenas Law firm.