Criminal Court Process From Beginning to End

Criminal Defense

August 14, 2015

Criminal Court Process From Beginning to End

If you have just been charged with a crime, it is common to be nervous, scared and worried about what will happen. Especially if it is your first time, it can be overwhelming and completely understandable to not know what to expect. You’re going to hear a lot legal terms and jargon that the average person without a law background wouldn’t know the meaning. We’ll break down the process to let you know what you’ve got yourself into and so you can hire a successful criminal defense attorney. While there is a general procedure of how court cases go, each case is slightly different so the exact course of action depends on your circumstance.

Nearly every instance starts with an arrest. Whether you have been pulled over for an OVI or have a warrant out, you will be arrested and entered in the Ohio court system. After arrest, you will spend time in jail before being bailed out. This depends on the severity of the crime. Bail is the money you promise to return to court on your court date. Not everyone has the privilege of being able to post bail. The judge will determine if you are a danger to the public or a flight risk. They will also assess if you will return for your court date or not.

The first court date will be your arraignment. This will be when you are officially informed of the charges against you and your first opportunity to enter a plea. You will also be informed of your right to counsel or have an attorney. Next will be the preliminary hearing. This is where the prosecution will show that there is enough probable cause to presume that you committed the crime you’ve been charged with. They do not have to prove you committed the crime, just that there is enough reason to believe you did. The judge will either agree that there is evidence to proceed forward to trial or throw the case out due to the lack of a substantial argument. This can be viewed as a condensed trial where both sides state their case and present their supporting evidence.

There will be some time between the pretrial and the actual trial. This time can be stressful but is critical. It is very common for motions to be filed. These can include the admissibility of particular evidence, the date and time of the trial, and continuances. Continuances are the most frequently used motion that is filed. It is used to delay the trial so your attorney has sufficient time to prepare your defense. Another regularly used tactic is to seek a plea deal or bargain. This is when you plead guilty to receive a lesser charge and penalty. When deciding whether to accept a plea deal or not, it is recommended to take the advice of an experienced defense attorney since they are looking out for your best interest.

On the day of your trial, this is the order of events that will happen. Each side will get to express their opening statements. Next the relevant evidence will be presented. This is often the most time consuming and involves calling witnesses to the stand. This is where the prosecution tries to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. The last step is the closing arguments. Here each side will get to their final chance to address the judge and jury. The jury will leave and go to a secluded room where they determine the result of the case. Once they are done, they will announce the verdict they have reached. Depending on the verdict, a date for sentencing will be scheduled.

If you have questions regarding Ohio’s criminal court process, a knowledgeable criminal attorney from DiCaudo, Pitchford & Yoder may be able to help. For legal advice or information, contact the attorneys at DiCaudo, Pitchford & Yoder LLC today.