The criminal process begins with an arrest or summons. Felony charges usually involve an arrest while misdemeanor charges involve an arrest, but more often, a summons or ticket. The summons may contain the Arraignment date. An arrest may be the result of a law enforcement officer obtaining an arrest warrant or by obtaining probable cause to believe the arrestee has commited an offense.
The Arraignment date is the court date when the formal charge is read to the defendant and he asked to enter a plea. The pleas are not guilty, guilty, not guilty by reason of insanity.
Defense counsel may file motions which may be set for motion hearings. Here, the attorneys may argue over the constitutionality of a stop or search as well as many other issues that may affect the outcome of a case.
The trial is the court date when the case is presented to a judge or jury to determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant. Witnesses and evidence must be presented by the prosecutor to persuade the trier of fact beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed all elements of the offense. The defendant has the right to cross-examine all witnesses.
The judge will set the matter for sentencing if the defendant is convicted. The judge takes into account many factors prior to sentencing a defendant.
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