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What is the General Process for a Criminal Case?

Although the specific procedures used in criminal courts may vary depending on the jurisdiction, the general process is usually the same. The following is a general outline of what you can expect to happen if you’re facing criminal charges in Maryland:

Step one: Arraignment

The arraignment is the hearing at which a judge publicly reads the charges issued against you, and you enter your plea. Your attorney will accompany you at this hearing. If your bail was not set at the time of your arrest, it may be set at the arraignment, and so this is your opportunity to seek a lower bail. If you plead guilty, you skip the next two steps. But if you plead not guilty, the case continues to step two.

Step two: Trial

If you do not come to a plea agreement, your case will go to trial. The first step is the selection of the jury. Each attorney and the judge interview all potential jurors and choose who they wish to sit in the jury. When the trial starts, the prosecution presents its case against you, calling witnesses and presenting evidence. The defense is allowed to cross-examine witnesses from the prosecution and present its own evidence and witnesses, as well. Once this process is complete, each side issues a closing statement.

Step three: Verdict

The jury deliberates outside of the courtroom, and then announces its verdict in court. The defendant could be guilty or not guilty of all or some charges. It’s important to note that the jury must reach an anonymous decision — if it cannot, the judge may call for a new trial.

Step four: Sentencing

If you are determined guilty, either by jury decision or your plea, you will have a sentencing hearing to determine how you will be punished for the crime. This may include jail time, fines, probation and various other penalties.

If you are facing criminal charges and could use the assistance of a skilled Maryland defense attorney, call on the experienced team at Mudd, Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A. in La Plata.

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