Depending on whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, the court procedure may differ very slightly.
For misdemeanors, you will most likely be given a date to appear in court for your arraignment. This is a hearing before a judge, during which you are advised of the charges that have been filed against you and asked to enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty. If you wish to plead guilty, the Court will advise you of how it will sentence you and your case may be resolved that day. IT IS NEVER WISE TO ENTER A PLEA OF GUILTY AT THE ARRAIGNMENT. After you have plead guilty, you will be given a date for a pre-trial hearing. At the pre-trial hearing, the District Attorney will make an offer to you in exchange for your plea of guilty or no contest. If you accept that offer, your case is resolved that day. If you choose to reject that offer, your case will be set for Jury Trial.
For felonies, at your arraignment, the Court or your attorney will enter a protective plea of not guilty and you will be given two court dates: a pre-preliminary hearing date and a preliminary hearing date. On the date of the pre-preliminary hearing, the District Attorney will make you an offer in exchange for your plea of guilty. If the case is not resolved that day, you will return for your preliminary hearing. At this hearing, the District Attorney will call witnesses in order to present evidence to the judge which to establish that your case should be set for trial, rather than be dismissed for insufficient evidence. After the preliminary hearing, your case may involve require the litigation of certain motions before what is called the readiness hearing. The readiness hearing is a final opportunity to resolve the case before going to jury trial. At the readiness hearing, the District Attorney will once again make you an offer in an effort to settle the case without going to jury trial. If the case is not resolved it will proceed to jury trial.
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