In the criminal justice system of California, there are many types of hearings to determine the guilt or innocence of an accused charged with an offense. These are as follows, together with a brief description of the goings-on during the hearing.
a) Arraignment. This hearing is conducted after the arrest of the accused. Here, the court advises the accused of their Constitutional rights. Then, the facts constituting the crime is charged to the accused in open court. The accused is required to respond to the charges made, whether they are guilty or not guilty. At this point too bail is determined if allowed under the circumstances of the case;
b) Pre-Trial. This hearing has both formal and informal aspects. Here, the parties go through the process of discovery, which is the free exchange of evidence pertinent to the case. It is also at this part where parties would file motions with the court as to stipulations as well as dates of hearings. The informal aspects of this hearing is exploring plea bargaining and other negotiated settlements to keep the case out of court;
c) Preliminary Hearing. This is often called the probable cause hearing where evidence is presented by the prosecution to a judge to determine if there is a probable cause belief that the crime has been committed and accused had committed it. After determination of probable cause, the case moves to trial. When there is no probable cause, the case is dismissed;
d) The Trial. This is where the jury is present and the lawyers present evidence to support their theory of the case. There are many other sub areas in this part, such as jury selection as well as opening and closing statements for both the prosecution and defense;
e) Sentencing. After a verdict has been adjudged by the jury or a plea has been entered, sentencing proceedings are commenced. Here, the judge would accept evidence from both parties to determine the appropriate penalties on the accused convicted of the crime;
The judicial hearing is a serious legal activity in California. Should you be or know anyone undergoing this process, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.