Criminal Trial: 8 Main Stages

The fact is that not all criminal cases reach court. However, being prepared for everything as far as possible ensures a positive result for your case. To start with the criminal trial process, you need to learn about the main stages of a criminal trial. Moreover, it is vital to have proper legal representation through an experienced and qualified Escondido criminal defense attorney. Without a knowledgeable expert, it is difficult for you to get a favorable result.

It is good to be familiar with the seven basic steps of a criminal trial to be prepared for all that awaits. The criminal process begins the moment you get arrested and completes after the sentence. Here are the seven stages main of a criminal trial:

Step 1: Arrest

A criminal case starts when a person is arrested for the crime. There are mainly three fundamental categories of crime that is misdemeanors, citations, and felonies. People that are arrested for misdemeanors and citations normally have to pay fines only. On the other hand, people arrested for felony crimes involve arrests, trials, and jail.

Step 2: Bail

A bail is a temporary release for the individual accused of the crime for paying the amount of money set through the court. After the arrest takes place, bail is set for the defendant. Remember, not all the people accused of crimes are granted bail. Once the bail gets settled, the defendant gets released from jail under a few conditions. Bail process and conditions vary based on the nature of the crime, the criminal history, etc. The defendant has to sign the bail in writing to present in court on the trial dates. An expert Escondido criminal defense attorney can help you with bail and its procedure.

Step 3: Arraignment

The court date set during bail is the defendant’s first court appearance. It is an arraignment. After being accused, arraignment is scheduled instantly. The main points of arraignment are as follows:

  • The defendant gets a written accusation which comprises all the charges he is accused of.
  • The defendant responds to concerned charges by pleading guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
  • The judge takes time to consider the matters related to bail.
  • The judge decides on the preliminary hearing, court dates, pre-trial conference, and the trial.

If you still have not hired an experienced Escondido criminal defense attorney, arraignment is the perfect time to do so.

Step 4: Preliminary hearing

The main purpose of a preliminary hearing is for the judge to decide on the existence of the probable crime. If the judge finds a lack of evidence against the defendant, the case is dismissed. But, if the judge decides the presence of probable cause, the case goes to trial. An Escondido criminal defense attorney uses a preliminary hearing to get more information and details about the case.

The three most common outcomes during the preliminary hearing are as follows:

  • The judge decides that the defendant has to attend the trial.
  • The judge decides to reduce the charges to a less serious offense.
  • The judge decides to dismiss the case entirely.

Step 5: Pre-trial conference

The pre-trial conference is where the judge, your criminal defense attorney, and the prosecutor meet to discuss the probability of the plea bargain. Your defense attorney and the prosecution will share their opinion about the fair resolution to the case, considering the criminal history of the defendant and the seriousness of the crime.

When you hire an experienced Escondido criminal defense attorney, he will make a mitigation package, which includes letters from various family members, friends, and reputable community leaders. It reflects the personal situation of the defendant to convince the prosecution to settle at a plea bargain suitable to the defendant. Once the plea bargain is set, the defendant accepts or denies it.

Step 6: Jury trial

If the case goes to court, it is time for a jury trial. There are numerous steps in a jury trial. It is good to be acquainted with it. The steps involved are as follows:

  • Potential jurors reach the court.
  • The prosecution, defense attorney, and judge question the jurors and select a few of them.
  • The judge inspects all the proof to allow or dismiss it.
  • Your Escondido defense attorney and the prosecution make their opening statements.
  • The prosecutor calls their witnesses to present the case.
  • Your defense attorney will cross-examine the witnesses brought by the prosecution.
  • Once the prosecutor finishes, your defense attorney will present their case.
  • Your defense attorney will call the witnesses, and the prosecutor will cross-examine them.
  • Your defense attorney and prosecutor will make their closing arguments.
  • The judge explains to jurors how to perform their duty before leaving the courtroom.

Step 7: Sentencing

After the jury returns, it is time for sentencing. Sentencing is always the decision made only by the judge. Some of the aspects taken into account for reaching the sentencing decision are:

  • The circumstances of the crime and the arrest
  • The criminal history of the defendant
  • The aggravating and mitigating factors related to the case.

After considering these factors, the judge announces the sentence.

Step 8: Appeal

If the defendant is unhappy with the sentence made by the judge and jury, the defendant can file an appeal. Your Escondido criminal defense attorney cannot make any arguments while appealing but can challenge the sentence only. To begin with, the process to appeal, your defense attorney needs to file a Notice of Appeal. The process will continue at the appellate court of high jurisdiction. Your defense attorney presents the instances of your case not being handled efficiently through the court and leaves it to the judge to decide whether the sentencing remains.

Trust The Law Office of Vikas Bajaj for your criminal case

If you are arrested for criminal activity and require legal representation, rely on Vikas Bajaj, the best Escondido criminal defense attorney. His hard work has proved to be helpful for a lot of clients to secure a favorable sentence. Once you get arrested, stay calm and contact The Law Office of Vikas Bajaj immediately. The sooner you begin to prepare your case, the better. Reach out to us today!