--An arrest is made (an arrest warrant or a summons is issued).
--The person is charged.
--There is an advisement/bond return hearing. This is where the person is
advised of what charges, if any, have been filed.
--Preliminary hearing. In certain felony cases, the District Attorney has to produce enough evidence
for the judge to determine probable cause to believe a crime has been
committed and probable cause to believe the defendant has committed it. This
hearing is for the purpose of determining whether enough evidence exists to
proceed to trial. The court merely decides whether there is evidence which
could support a conviction. During this hearing, the court does not weigh the
credibility or believability of the witnesses and must view the evidence in
the light most favorable to the prosecution. Hearsay evidence is allowed at
such hearings and the defense has a very limited ability to call witnesses. If
a determination of probable cause is found, the case will be sent to district
--An Arraignment is where the Defendant enters a plea of guilty or not
guilty. If a plea bargain has been reached, it is often entered into at this
time and a date for sentencing is set. If not, future court dates are then
scheduled which may include motions dates (where legal arguments are made
concerning various aspects of the case), subpoena return dates (where
documents are given to the court to review), pretrial conferences (where the
parties and the court assess whether the case will be proceeding to trial) and
to handle any pretrial procedural matters and the trial.
--A Motion hearing is an evidentiary hearing for the judge, without a jury
present, to determine
various legal and evidentiary issues in a case.
--A felony jury trial will have 12 people on the jury and maybe an
alternate or alternates. A typical misdemeanor trial will have six jurors. Their verdict must be
The Defendant has a right to a speedy trial within 6 months
from the date of entry of a not guilty plea (often the arraignment, but in
many cases this may occur much later). The Defendant may waive that
right, which does not forfeit that right forever, it merely starts the
six month time period running anew.
The Prosecution has the burden of proving the case beyond a
reasonable doubt. The Defendant does not have to prove anything.
If the Prosecution fails to carry its rather heavy burden of proof beyond all
reasonable doubt, then the jury MUST return a verdict of "Not