Pre-arrest investigation.
Officers gather evidence and
interview witnesses regarding an
alleged crime.

Arrest. Officers arrest the person
(or persons) they believe
committed the crime.

Booking. Officers obtain basic
information (name, address, and
fingerprints).

Post-arrest investigation.
Officers focus on gathering
evidence admissible in a court of
law.

Filing of charges. The District
Attorney files charges with the
appropriate court.

Judicial review of complaint. A
magistrate judge reviews the
complaint to determine if the
arresting officers had probable
cause to arrest the suspect (now
a defendant).


Arraignment. The court informs
the defendant of the charges
against him. Trial of felony
charges will commence within 60
days.

Pre-trial procedures. Each side
files motions to expedite the trial
and disclose the evidence they
plan to use.

Trial. Each side may make opening
and closing statements, question
witnesses, and present evidence.

Sentencing. If guilt proven, the
judge conducts a hearing to
determine the appropriate
punishment.

Appeals. The convicted person
may request that an appellate
court correct any mistakes made
at trial.

Expungement of record. In some
circumstances, a judge may set
aside and dismiss a conviction.
Criminal procedure
Know what comes next
Criminal matters progress through the stages outlined below.
First court appearance. The
defendant appears before a judge
within 72 hours of arrest. The
judge reads the charges against
the defendant and informs the
defendant of his or her rights. The
judge sets bail or orders the
defendant released without bail.
Trial of misdemeanor charges will
commence within 45 days, or 30
days (defendant in custody).

Preliminary hearing or grand
jury review (felony cases
only).
The judge, or a panel of
private citizens, determines if the
District Attorney has probable
cause to believe the defendant
committed the crime. The
preliminary hearing should take
place within ten days of
arraignment.

The indictment or information.
The District Attorney files felony
charges with the trial court within
15 days of the preliminary
hearing.