You Have Been Charged– Now What? The Stages of a Criminal Case

It’s a normal reaction to worry about what will happen now that you’re in this situation, but as a defense attorney, I can help guide you. I am here to help you understand the process of a criminal case and the best things you can do to protect yourself. Keeping in mind that all criminal cases are different, here are the five basic stages that you may be dealing with:

1. Arrest – Not all criminal cases are the same, but they generally start with an arrest. You may have already been arrested by the time you know you’re facing charges. At this point, you have the right to remain silent and to request an attorney to be present during questioning. Even if you haven’t done anything wrong, it is best to remain silent until you contact a lawyer. It’s always a good idea to talk to a lawyer! I stand by the practice of always contacting an attorney as early on in the case as possible– ideally, before or during this stage. Having the guidance of someone with legal expertise can make a world of difference in your case and as a defense attorney, I’m prepared to fight for you. After the arrest, you will either be able to post bail for a pre-trial release, or you’ll remain in police custody.

2. Grand Jury – If you’re facing felony charges, then the next stage in a criminal case is facing the Grand Jury– a group of people that we won’t actually meet in this stage. They will meet in secret to determine whether there is probable cause in your case based on witnesses gathered by the state. Considering this only allows them to hear one part of the story, don’t be alarmed if they return with an indictment– a formal criminal charge. The Grand Jury often returns indictments, and they aren’t bound by the limit of the same charges you were brought in for. In other words, they can add charges or increase their severity if they see fit. If you receive an indictment, you’ll be notified by mail of when and where to appear for your arraignment.

Waiting at this time can be stressful, but I’ll be using this time to finish building your case and helping to guide you toward the best outcome possible. We will discuss your plea, which is a pivotal part of your case that will determine its direction. If you haven’t contacted a defense attorney before this stage in the process, you’ll want to ensure you find one as soon as possible at this point. You deserve good representation!

3. Arraignment – During arraignment, you will go before your trial judge for the first time. This may sound daunting, but I will be right by your side. The judge will confirm that you know what the grand jury has decided, as well as whether you have legal representation. You may be asked at this time to enter your plea, whether you are innocent or guilty of the criminal charges you’re facing. They will then add your case to the court’s docket– in other words, it will be added to their list of cases to try. This may seem like a big step in the process, but with preparation and legal counsel, you’ll know what to expect to make this as smooth of a process as possible.

From this point, I’ll explain the whole process of the trial to you, so you know what to expect and you can head into the next stage feeling prepared. Trial preparation is how I help my clients get through this process as level-headed as they can be– you won’t be walking into anything alone and I’ll do my best to ensure you feel ready for what is coming. No one should ever face this process feeling like they’re alone.

4. Trial by jury – A trial is rarely used, because most cases can be resolved through plea bargains. Through a plea bargain, you can generally either plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a more lenient sentence or we can reach an agreement to drop the charges.

However, if you do face a trial, you won’t go alone. I will go to bat for you, using the defense case that we’ve been building to help sway jury opinion in your favor. The trial can be a long process. You may be asked difficult questions, but with my preparation, you’ll walk in knowing what you’re up against. Once we have put up a good fight, the jury can then make a decision on whether to make an acquittal– a not guilty verdict – or how to prosecute based on the parameters of the law.

As a dedicated defense attorney, I always provide the best defense I can. I firmly believe that one mistake shouldn’t dictate the rest of your life. Working with me is a partnership where we don’t give up on each other, working together to reach the best possible solution for you.

Let’s discuss your case! I offer a free consultation to get to know the details, then we can get to work on our approach. Give my office a call at 520-333-3348 and we can set up a meeting.

Scroll to Top