What Happens in Criminal Court?

From: Attorneys.com

Ever wonder what reallys happens in a court room?

How the a trial work?

How fair is the court system?

These questions and more answered by Attorneys.com.

Specific criminal court procedures vary by jurisdiction. Each state and the federal government sets its own rules. However, the general outline of what happens in criminal court is similar across jurisdictions.


Often, your first criminal court appearance will be your arraignment. This is where the judge reads the charges against you, and you enter a plea. Your lawyer or public defender may be with you, or you may have the chance to petition for a public defender.

The judge might also ask the prosecutor for more information to be sure your arrest was legal. If the prosecutor cannot prove probable cause for your arrest, you may be released.

If bail was not set when you were arrested, it may be set at your arraignment. This is also your chance to ask for a lower bail if you were not able to afford the bail set at the time of your arrest.

The Trial Process

If you do not reach a plea agreement with the prosecution, the next step is a trial. Most jurisdictions offer similar rights for defendants going to trial:

  • speedy trial, unless you waive that right
  • Trial by jury if you face potential prison time of six months or more
  • A bench trial (by a judge), if you prefer

The first step is jury selection, if you chose a jury trial. The judge and attorneys interview potential jurors and choose the appropriate number to sit on your jury.

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