From Arrest to Trial: The Timeline of a Criminal Case
Interviewer: When someone’s been arrested on a criminal case and they get out of jail through bail or just released, what’s next? What are the typical processes, stages, and steps in a criminal case?
Stuart Austin: What happens first is once you’ve been notified of the charges or whether the police pick you up or whether you turn yourself in, you’ll appear before a judge. He or she will decide whether to allow bail or not, based again, on those factors that we talked about.
Once the case has proceeded to that stage, that’s the time when the attorney will investigate the case and speak to witnesses. That’s where an investigator really comes into play, because he’s going to find out what the evidence there is against and whether what they said they had a week ago or two weeks ago is still valid. Witnesses can change their minds, especially when it’s a boyfriend/girlfriend situation.
Once that happens and the case is investigated, then depending on whether it’s a felony or a misdemeanor, the next stage in the case will be to decide whether it’s going to go to a grand jury, whether we might file a motion to dismiss, based on inconsistencies.
Also, the paperwork needs to be reviewed to determine whether there are any anomalies in the paperwork. Some of which would allow the case to be dismissed. The next stage after that is probably going to hearing, and arguing the case or plea-bargaining the case to see what kind of deal can be made. I have found that the stronger the problems are with the case, the better your plea-bargaining options are.
Sometimes, we don’t even want a plea bargain; we just want to make a motion to dismiss if we’re pretty certain that that will be granted.