When you have been charged with a crime, the legal process will likely proceed in the manner described below.
A misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by up to one year in the county jail and/or a fine.
A felony is a crime that is punishable by more than one year in county jail or prison as well as possible fines.
Arraignment and Plea
When someone is arrested, they must be brought before a judge, advised of the charges against them and be afforded an opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty within 48 hours if in custody. If the person has posted bail or been issued a citation and released on their own recognizance, this arraignment can be later than 48 hours.
At the arraignment hearing, the judge may set bail anywhere from zero to millions of dollars depending on the nature of the crime(s) alleged, the possible flight risk of the defendant and other factors. Attorney Ross Erlich will argue for bail to be as low as possible to ensure that the client can return to ordinary life and their job as quickly as possible.
The last important part of the arraignment and plea stage is that the defendant’s attorney is given a copy of the charges, the initial police report and other background information pertinent to the case. This allows Attorney Ross Erlich to review and address all facts alleged in the police report at the earliest possible stage of the case.
In all misdemeanor cases, there is no preliminary examination. This means that after the arraignment, the case moves directly into the pre-trial stage. Pre-trial conferences allow Attorney Ross Erlich to discuss the facts of the case and any mitigating circumstances with the prosecutor and/or the judge in an attempt to reach a resolution that is acceptable to the client.
If no settlement is reached, the case is then set for trial.
In felony cases, a defendant is entitled to a preliminary hearing within 10 days of his/her arraignment. At the preliminary hearing, the prosecution has the burden to prove that there is a reasonable likelihood that 1) a crime was committed and, 2) that the defendant was the one who committed that crime.
Typically the prosecution will put the arresting officer or victim on the witness stand to meet their burden of proof and this affords Attorney Ross Erlich opportunity to cross-examine that witness and make a record under oath to use during later proceedings of the case.
Ultimately a judge decides whether there is sufficient evidence to hold the defendant to answer for trial.
In felony cases, after the defendant has been held to answer on the charges, he or she is arraigned in the Superior Court, otherwise known as the trial court.
A defendant has a right to trial, which generally occurs 60 days after a preliminary hearing in felony cases and approximately 45 days after a misdemeanor arraignment