Monder Law Group - News
Criminal Justice System
This is a defendant’s first appearance before the court.
During arraignment the court will read the defendant’s rights, inform the defendant of the charges and the potential penalties that the defendant may be facing.
The court will want to know at this time if the defendant will be represented by counsel. If the defendant cannot afford to hire a private attorney, the defendant will be given a form to fill out, asking questions about the defendant’s financial status. If the court determines based on this form that the defendant qualifies for a court appointed attorney, a public defender will be appointed to represent the defendant.
The court will next ask the defendant to enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty. If the defendant pleads guilty then the court will take this as an admission to the charges and may either proceed to sentencing the defendant or schedule a sentencing hearing. If the defendant pleads not guilty then the court will give the defendant the option between a bench trial and a trial by jury and schedule a pretrial conference.
This is a defendant’s second appearance before the court.
The pretrial conference will consist of the prosecution and the defense presenting the court with the information of the potential witnesses they will be introducing and the exhibits that they will be offering at trial. At this time the prosecution and defense will also discuss the possibility of a plea bargain. If a plea bargain is agreed to, then the defendant will have to fill out a change of plea form and proceed forth with sentencing. If there is no plea bargain, then the court will proceed to ask the prosecution and the defense if there are any pretrial issues that need to be addressed and will set the deadlines for the any pretrial motions that will be filed with the court.
This is a defendant’s third appearance before the court.
If the defendant elected for a bench trial at arraignment, then the trial may follow immediately after the pretrial conference on the same day. The prosecution will put on its case in chief, after which the defense may choose whether or not to present evidence. At the end a verdict will be reached by the judge. If the judge convicts the defendant then the judge will proceed to sentence the defendant.
If the defendant elected for a trial by jury, then the trial will take place a on a different day from the pretrial conference. On the first day of the trial, the prosecution and the defense will have jury selection. The jury pool will consist of anywhere between 24-30 potential jurors. The judge will begin asking the jurors questions, then the prosecution will follow, and lastly the defense. Throughout jury selection, both the prosecution and the defense can challenge a potential juror until the jury is reached. The prosecution will put on its case in chief, after which the defense may choose whether or not to present evidence. At the end, the judge will read the jury instructions and allow the jury members to deliberate. A verdict will be reached by the members of the jury and the judge will sentence the defendant. Depending on how long the members of the jury take to deliberate, the judge may have to schedule a sentencing hearing.
This is a defendant’s fourth and last appearance before the court.
During the sentencing hearing, both the prosecutor and the defense attorney will be given an opportunity make recommendations about the defendant’s sentence. At this time the defendant may also elect to make a statement on his or her own behalf. At the end of the hearing, the sentencing judge will make a judgment and the defendant will be imposed a sentence.
If you have any questions about the criminal justice system in San Diego contact San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney Vik Monder at 619.405.0063 or visit San Diego Criminal Defense