An Overview of the Criminal Case Process

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I was arrested and posted bail/bond, what happens now?  If you have ever found yourself asking this question, you are not alone.  Individuals every day find themselves unexpectedly thrown into the unfamiliar world of criminal defense, whether due to their own actions or the actions of others.  In such a stressful situation, not knowing what to expect often creates more anxiety, stress, and fear than the criminal charge and arrest itself.  At Pasley & Nuce, we want you to understand the process, know what to expect, and make the right decision in hiring an experienced attorney to help you when you need it most.

ARRAIGNMENT: If you have been able to post bail/bond, your next court appearance will be at a designated date, time, and location for your arraignment.  Your arraignment will be your first appearance in the designated court handling your actual criminal charge (not to be confused with your first appearance after your initial arrest, which is when your bail/bond amount is set or denied by a magistrate judge).  At your arraignment you will be given the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty, at which time, if you plead not guilty, you will either be given a date for your next court hearing or told to check your mail for your next court date notice.

CALENDAR CALL: After arraignment has passed, in most courts (with exceptions for city courts and probate courts, generally), calendar call will be your next court appearance.  At calendar call you will be given the opportunity to announce your intention to either take a plea offer or set your final trial date.  This is usually your last chance to negotiate a plea offer with the state if that is your intent.  After this date, courts will generally not accept negotiated pleas, leaving you at the mercy of the court if you later decide to plead guilty prior to your trial.

MOTIONS/TRIAL: Once your announcement is made at trial, and assuming you did not accept a plea deal, the next stage in the criminal process can occur at one or two separate court dates, depending on the court you are in and that particular court’s process.  Prior to your trial (whether a bench trial or a jury trial), you may have certain legal arguments that need to be made prior to having the trial—these issues are argued and presented to the court and are termed “motions.”  Motions can either be argued to the court on a court date separate and apart from your trial date, or held on the same day, depending on the court you are in at the time.  After your motions have been dispensed of, and if the motions do not end in your case being dismissed, you are finally ready for trial.  Trials can take place as a bench trial (with the judge deciding guilt or innocence) or a jury trial (with jurors deciding guilt or innocence).

No one ever knows the outcome of a case before it happens, no one can make guarantees about a verdict, and no one can tell you how things will end up in any particular case; however, an attorney can tell you what to expect about the process itself to help put you at ease.  At the end of the day, just knowing the stages of a criminal case can go a long way in helping you feel at ease.

At Pasley & Nuce, we want to make sure you feel as much at ease as possible given the situation, and explaining the process to our clients is one way to do so.  With three different locations in Griffin, Barnesville, and Thomaston, Pasley & Nuce has years of experience defending criminal cases throughout Georgia, from municipal court and probate court to state court and superior court.  If you or a loved one find themselves facing a traffic ticket, DUI, misdemeanor, or felony charge, give us a call for a free consultation to discuss your case.  At Pasley & Nuce, we’re here to help when you need it most.

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