Being arrested can be confusing and intimidating, especially when you don’t
know what lies ahead. While you’re constitutionally guaranteed the
right to a fair and speedy trial, the process for a criminal law trial
is more complex than you might believe. So to help you better prepare
for what you may face up ahead, here is a highly-generalized timeline
of what you can expect during your case. Of course, it’s strongly
advised you speak with a Bakersfield criminal defense attorney about your
case and retain their help through every step of the process in order
to give yourself the best possible chance at an optimal outcome.
The first step to any criminal case is you have to initially be arrested.
In order for you to be arrested, law enforcement must have “probable
cause” to believe a crime was committed, or have actually witnessed
the crime themselves. Once under arrest, a suspect is officially in custody
and will be booked.
If a suspect in custody is granted bail, they may choose to pay the bail
amount in exchange for a release. The terms of bail are generally based
on a suspect’s flight risk (risk of leaving the county, state, or
country), the seriousness of the crime, and any previous criminal history.
Arraignment is the first court appearance, during which the judge responsible
for the case reads off the charges filed against a defendant. Once the
charges are laid out, the judge then asks the defendant how they plead:
guilty, not guilty, or no contest. The judge will also review bail and
set future court dates.
Preliminary Hearing/Jury Proceedings
During these proceedings, it is determined whether or not a defendant
has to stand trial for their charges due to their being sufficient probable
cause for an arrest. During a preliminary hearing, both sides present
arguments before a judge, while in a grand jury proceeding, only the prosecution
presents before the jury, who ultimately make the decision as to whether
the arrest was warranted.
These are often-overlooked and extremely underestimated, but will have
a tremendous influence on your case. During these proceedings, any final
issues regarding evidence or other factors are resolved. Most notably,
it’s determined what evidence is admissible to your trial.
Your trial itself is what most people think of when they think of going
to court. During this period, your defense attorney and the prosecution
will both present their arguments to try to prove the accused is either
guilty or innocent. The prosecution must do so “beyond all reasonable
doubt” in order to warrant a conviction.
If the defendant is found guilty, they will be forced to undergo sentencing.
During this period, the court determines the appropriate punishment. This
includes any previous criminal history, the nature and severity of the
crime, the defendant’s personal circumstances, the degree of remorse
felt, and more. The decision is usually read in a final court appearance.
Get help with every step of the criminal process from a Bakersfield criminal
defense lawyer. Call Campbell Whitten today at 661-735-1038 for a
If the defendant and their attorney believe that the judgement was given
in error, then they may request that the trial is reviewed by a higher
court. If the higher court finds that an error did in fact occur, they
may reverse the conviction or request that the case be re-tried.