The first two parts of this series have already covered the Detention, Investigation, Arrest, Arraignment, Readiness Conferences and Preliminary Hearing stages of the criminal processes. In this third part of the series, you will learn more about the Post Preliminary Hearing Arraignment and Pretrial Conference, as well as the Trial itself.
Post Preliminary Hearing Arraignment and Pretrial Conference
At the preliminary hearing, the prosecutor will file information detailing the charges the judge has held you to answer. The post preliminary hearing arraignment will generally take place immediately after the hearing and will involve your Vista criminal attorney entering your plea on the charges the judge found probable cause to hold you on. Dates will be scheduled for further readiness conferences, motion cutoffs and the trial itself.
Up until the trial, your lawyer should be working to negotiate with the prosecutors and judges at pretrial conferences in order to help resolve your case before the trial. In some cases, this will involve your being charged with a less serious crime, in others, it will mean a less severe punishment. In certain situations, your Vista criminal attorney may even be able to get some of the charges against you dismissed.
If your case is not settled before the trial date, you and/or your lawyer will need to appear in court. In misdemeanor cases, the trial will generally occur within 30 days of the arrest for those in custody and 45 days for those who aren’t. For most misdemeanor cases, your attorney can appear in court without you. In felony cases, the trial will generally be scheduled within 60 days of the post-preliminary hearing arraignment. All felony cases and cases involving domestic violence require the defendant to appear in person. If necessary, defendants out of custody can arrange for the trial to occur after these time frames so their lawyer has more time to prepare for the trial.
The first step of the trial will involve the selection of a jury by the prosecutors and your criminal attorneys. Vista residents will make up a jury pool and it is up to your lawyer and the prosecutor to select twelve impartial jurors from the pool. Once this is complete, the trial will take anywhere from one day to whole months depending on the specific case and its complexity.
Most trials will involve pretrial motions, opening statements, the introduction of evidence, presentation of witnesses and expert testimony, cross examination of the witnesses and experts and closing arguments. Remember that it is up to the prosecution to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to all twelve jurors. If they cannot meet this burden, you will be found not guilty.
If the jury cannot make a unanimous decision, a mistrial may be declared. In these cases, your charges may be dropped or settled more easily. The prosecution does have the option of retrying the case if an agreement cannot be reached.
To read parts I and II of the series, please click on the respective links. Otherwise, come back next week for part IV. If you’re facing charges, please call Vista criminal lawyer Peter Liss at (760) 643-4050.
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