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Criminal Court Case Process

At the law firm of Azad “A.J.” Jingozian we believe that an educated client can serve as an asset to his or her case. At our firm, clients can expect to be fully informed of every step involved in the legal process, as well as kept abreast of how their case is progressing. If you or a loved one is seeking a criminal defense lawyer, an attorney from our Los Angeles office can provide sound legal counsel. If you would like to schedule a free consultation, contact Jingozian Law Firm today. To learn more about what you can expect during a criminal court case, read our reference guide below.

Criminal Court Case Process

There are numerous steps involved in a criminal case and the legal process is often complicated. A criminal defense attorney from our Los Angeles-area law firm will provide personalized guidance to you through the duration of your case because we feel it is our obligation and duty to keep clients prepared for every possible eventuality.

Case Referred to District Attorney’s Office

After a defendant has been charged and arrested, the case is referred to the District Attorney (DA) of the appropriate jurisdiction for review. The case submission details the crime or crimes that the defendant is charged with and the evidence against him or her. After a case has been submitted to the office of the District Attorney by the police, it is the responsibility of the DA’s office to review the case and determine if it is fit for trial. A case can be rejected at this point because of a lack of evidence or other circumstances; in such cases, charges are dropped, and the defendant is released. However, if the DA’s office chooses to prosecute, then the defendant will be formally charged.

Arraignment and Court Appearance

At the first court appearance, the defendant is arraigned, or informed of the charges against him or her, and given an opportunity to issue a plea: guilty, not guilty, or no contest. (In a felony case, the arraignment occurs after a preliminary hearing; in which case it is determined if there is enough evidence to warrant a trial.) At this stage, a criminal defense lawyer from our Los Angeles law firm will inform you or a loved one, based upon the evidence and the possible sentences, which plea would be most advantageous and appropriate. Upon the conclusion of the arraignment, the court usually issues bail, informs the defendant of the conditions of the bail, and schedules the date and time for the next hearing.

Pre-Trial Motion Hearing

A motion is a formal request by the defense or the prosecution to the judge to issue an order. This can include motions to suppress evidence, motions to suppress prior convictions, or motions to discover evidence. All motions must be presided over or heard by the judge before a trial can begin.

Pre-Trial Conference and Plea Bargaining

In a pre-trial conference, the prosecution and the defense may attempt to negotiate a satisfactory resolution to the case, usually through a plea-bargain agreement. A pre-trial conference must be approved by the trial court. A plea bargain is a negotiation between the prosecution and the defense to agree to a satisfactory disposition of the case based upon an understanding that the defendant will plead guilty. In the event of a plea-bargaining negotiation, a criminal defense lawyer from our Los Angeles office will advise you or a loved one on the potential pros and cons of agreeing to a plea bargain. If the defendant agrees to the plea bargain, the trial process is skipped and the case goes straight to sentencing.

Trial and Sentencing

At the beginning of the trial, the criminal defense lawyer along with the prosecutor help select the jury panel. This selection process is in place so that the defense and the prosecution can eliminate any jurors that may be biased. After testimonials and arguments are presented to the court from both sides, the jury presents their verdict to the defendant, based on the evidence that has been provided. In a criminal case, four possible verdicts can be reached: guilty, not guilty, not guilty by reason of insanity, and guilty and mentally ill. In the event that the defendant is found guilty, a trial will be set to determine the sentencing.

Appeals Process

In a criminal case, the defendant may appeal the decision of the lower courts to a Federal Court of Appeals for judicial review. The appeals court is not required to take all cases that are submitted for review; the appellate must show that the court made a legal error that affected the outcome of the case. If you are in need of a criminal defense lawyer or appellate attorney in the Los Angeles area, we can help. At the Jingozian Law Firm, our appellate attorney can help file an appeal if you or a loved one was wronged in court.

The appeals process requires several steps. The appellate attorney will present legal arguments to a panel of three judges presiding over the case in a formal document called a brief. No new evidence or witnesses are presented to the panel. Rather, the judges make their decision based on the record of the trial created by the court. In the appeal of a criminal case, it is the job of the appellate attorney to show that the verdict was based on clearly erroneous court procedures. In the event that the panel judges are unable to come to a decision based on the arguments presented in the briefs, cases are selected for oral arguments, in which the appellate attorneys present their cases to the panel directly. Each presentation is kept to a relatively short length – roughly 15 minutes – and is the basis for the panel’s decision on the legality of the verdict already reached.