If you are arrested, you will be processed through the criminal justice systems and go through a series of legal procedures. It’s important to understand your rights and to know what to expect if you have been charged with a crime. Even if you are not guilty, you must adhere to what the law tells you to do.
After you are arrested and booked into custody, an arraignment hearing is set. The judge will tell you what you are being charged with and ask for your plea. The judge will also advise you that you have the right to a court-appointed lawyer if you can’t afford one. You can enter a not guilty, guilty or no contest plea.
The judge will enter your plea into the record and determine if you are eligible for a bail bond. If you are released on a bond you are expected to return for your next court date or risk another arrest. If you were arrested without a warrant, the prosecutor may hold a review for probable cause in court to determine whether there is enough evidence that you committed the crime. The probable cause review is typically held without the defendant in attendance.
In some cases, the charges against you may be dropped if the probable cause review or arraignment has not taken place in a timely manner, or due to a lack of evidence. The prosecutor may offer you a plea bargain before the case goes to trial. If you have been charged with a felony you will be given a preliminary hearing. If your case goes to trial your lawyer will locate witnesses and file motions on your behalf. The lawyer will request pertinent evidence from the prosecutor to defend you to the best of their abilities.