The Misdemeanor Criminal Process

Posted almost 6 years ago. Applies to Washington, 13 helpful votes




An arraignment generally refers to the first step in the criminal legal process wherein an accused is called to court, his/her identity is established, he/she is informed of the charge/s against him/her, and he/she is called upon to plead to that charge. Counsel is required at this stage. A misdemeanor defendant shall be arraigned not later than 15 days after the complaint is filed in court.


Pre-Trail Hearing

A Pre-Trial hearing date is set at arraignment. The Pre-Trial hearing is set to determine the status of a case: (a) If negotiations have been successful a plea may be entered and a sentencing date will be scheduled; (b) If more time is needed for investigation or negotiations the Pre-Trial hearing may be continued; (c) If negotiations are unsuccessful a Readiness hearing and Trial can be set at the Pre-Trial hearing.


Motions Hearing

A Motions hearing may or may not be set at the Pre-Trial Hearing. If a separate Motions date is not set, then you will likely argue Motions at trial or in-limine. Motions are legal arguments to suppress physical evidence or statements and possibly have the case dismissed.



* Jury Selection (Voir Dire) * Opening Statements * Examination of Witnesses * Jury Instructions * Closing Arguments * Verdict


Sentencing Hearing

Generally a sentencing hearing will be conducted after the entry of a plea or jury verdict. The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor in Washington state is 90 days in jail and a $1000.00 fine. The maximum penalty for a gross misdemeanor is 365 days in jail and a $5000.00 fine.

Additional Resources

Seattle Criminal Defense

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