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Inside Pennsylvania’s Criminal Court Process: What You Need to Know

Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C. Oct. 20, 2017

If you are arrested for a crime in Pennsylvania, it’s important to know that there are a series of steps that take place before your case goes to trial. These steps can take a long time, but they are also stepping stones on the way to trial. If you’re arrested, having access to criminal attorneys in Pittsburgh, PA will help you get through the legal process as effectively as possible.

Preliminary Arraignment

At a preliminary arraignment, the primary purpose is to determine how you relate to the community, your work history, and other factors to determine whether or not you are a flight risk. This is also when you may get your preliminary hearing date. You are usually either released on your own recognizance (in which case you may return home until your hearing date) or assigned bail.

Preliminary Hearing

A preliminary hearing will be the first step where there will be a possibility of a reduction in charges or whether the case will even stand trial. The court will determine whether there is enough evidence that a crime was committed and that you committed the crime to hold the case over to trial. It is at this point where having a lawyer is handy, as they can usually spot opportunities to reduce your sentence, as well as examine state witnesses. If the court finds that there is still a compelling case against you, the case moves to formal arraignment.

Formal Arraignment and Pretrial Conference (or Call of the List)

Once your case is moved past the preliminary hearing, it goes to the Court of Common Pleas in your county, where you serve a plea of guilty or not guilty, after which a Pretrial Conference or Call of the List is held. At the Call or Conference, plea deals are negotiated and arranged between your attorney and the State. If an arrangement cannot be met that is satisfactory to all parties, the case then moves to trial. If your trial is in Pittsburgh, having a criminal lawyer in Pittsburgh is absolutely essential.

Trial and Sentencing

If your case moves to trial, you will have either a jury or non-jury trial. If it is determined that you are not guilty, your case will end. If you are found guilty, the judge will move to sentencing, where other factors will be taken into account to see how strict a sentence will be given, taking into account mitigating factors that can lengthen or shorten a final sentence.

Your innocence and freedom are on the line. Work with a team of defense attorneys you can count on by contacting Allegheny Attorneys at Law. Our criminal defense lawyers make your case their priority, working along your side to fight for your freedom and protect your rights every step of the way. Don’t take chances with your criminal case and contact Allegheny Attorneys at Law at the first chance you get.