What Happens in a Felony Case


The processing of a felony begins as follows:

Arrest

  • Police take defendant to jail. If defendant remains in custody, defendant taken to Court for arraignment
  • If no charges are filed, the defendant is released
  • If the defendant posts bail or released on his/her “own recognizance, O.R.”, which means the defendant is bound by a promise to appear, an arraignment date is scheduled.

Arraignment

  • Defendant is brought to court or appears if out of custody
  • Defendant is represented by a retained attorney or an attorney is appointed if indigent
  • Defendant is advised of his/her constitutional rights
  • Bail is set or,
  • Defendant is released on his/her “own recognizance”

Preliminary Hearing

  • Witnesses testify
  • If the judicial officer finds insufficient evidence, the defendant is released
  • If the judicial officer finds sufficient evidence, the defendant is held to answer in the criminal trial department

Pre-trial Proceedings

  • All dates are scheduled
  • Pre-trial motions held
  • Settlement Conference held
    • If plea of guilty or no contest entered, sentencing occurs
    • If not guilty plea remains, trial date remains

Jury Trial

  • Jury is selected
  • Witnesses testify
  • Jury decides if the defendant is guilty or not guilty
    • If not guilty, the defendant is released and cannot be tried again for the same crime.
    • If guilty: Sentenced to Prison/Jail/Probation/other conditions
    • Appeal – The defendant can appeal to the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento

Court Trial

  • Witnesses testify
  • Judge decides whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty
    • If not guilty, the defendant is released and cannot be tried again for the same crime.
    • If guilty: Sentenced to Prison/Jail/Probation/other conditions
    • Appeal – The defendant can appeal to the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento