WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I GO TO COURT?
If you are going to court for:
INITIAL APPEARANCE – This is the time for a Judge to enter a plea of not guilty and set your release conditions. You may be released one of four ways:
- O.R. (own recognizance)-this means you are released simply on your promise to appear.
- Pre-Trial Services-this is supervised release wherein you must comply with any release conditions imposed by the agency.
- Third Party-when you are released to a third party whom agrees to supervise you for the court.
- Bond-the court sets a monetary amount that must be posted prior to release. If the full amount cannot be posted, a bail bonds person will usually accept 10% cash of the entire bond amount, and security or collateral for the entire bond amount.
If you were arrested and booked into the jail, the Judge at the jail would have already set your release conditions, and you will not be required to appear for an initial appearance.
ARRAIGNMENT – This is a short appearance to enter a plea of not guilty. On misdemeanor cases, we can appear for you. However, if you are charged with a felony you are required to be present for all your court appearances.
PRELIMINARY HEARING – You will only be required to appear for a preliminary hearing which involves only the State presenting evidence, and the Judge making a determination of whether or not there is probable cause to charge you with the particular crime(s), if you are charged with a felony. If you are not scheduled for a preliminary hearing, then your case would have gone to a Grand Jury, where a Grand Jury made the same determination of probable cause that a Judge would make in a preliminary hearing.
PRETRIAL CONFERENCE – These are commonly set in both misdemeanor and felony cases. In misdemeanors, this would be an opportunity for your attorney and the prosecutor to discuss the case and the evidence, and resolve any possible issues. In a felony, a pretrial conference is a time to inform the Judge of the status of the case.
TRIAL – On a misdemeanor, most crimes entitle you to a jury trial. However, some crimes such as simple assault, excessive speeding and reckless driving, only entitle you to a non-jury trial. All felony charges are entitled to a jury trial.