If you’ve been accused of a theft and need to appear in court, there are some things you need to know and be aware of.
The Legal Process
Everyone that is accused of a crime, either theft or fraud, will need to go through the legal process in court. There are various outcomes to this process, and it can end with a trial that will determine your guilt or innocence. Before that trial can happen (if it does happen) there are some steps you’ll need to go through.
General Process Steps
While some courts use different names, below is the general process that most courts follow. You should present for all of these hearings unless your criminal lawyer has told you otherwise.
1. Arraignment. During an arraignment, you will appear before a judge. This is when you are formally notified of the charge(s) that have been filed against you. During this time you are asked to enter a plea of either not guilty or guilty. You are able to change the plea later on.
The judge will also outline the conditions you must abide by during the case in order to avoid being taken into custody. A judge might also require you to post bail or bond in order to remain out of jail while the case is pending. You are able to object to the conditions of release as well as bail/bond. An attorney will help to guide you through this.
You will also receive notice of future court hearings. This is typically for a pre-trial hearing. Some courts may give you a notice of additional dates such as a trial date.
2. Pretrial. A pretrial hearing allows the court to monitor the progress of the case. This is also the opportunity for the court and you to resolve issues that might arise during the time your case is pending. It’s not uncommon for a case to be “continued” at this step. This is to give both parties ample time to prepare their cases.
3. Motions. Various legal motions can be brought at this time. It will depend on your type of case and what has been determined.
4. Readiness. A readiness hearing is where both parties inform the court of their “readiness” and it can be scheduled anywhere for several days to several weeks before the trial. is generally scheduled anywhere from several days to several weeks prior to trial. At this time the case can be continued or even resolved.
5. Trial. Most cases are resolved prior to a trial. But if your case goes to trial you often have the opportunity to decide if you want a jury trial or a bench trial. In jury trial, a jury will be chosen and will rule on your case. In a bench trial, a judge will rule on your case.
Working with an Attorney
Understanding the legal process is crucial to winning your case. Working with an attorney will help ensure you understand every step of the process.
Source: Burg Theft Defense, Court Process for Theft and Fraud Cases, 2015
The Law Office of Peter Berlin – Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
16130 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 570, Los Angeles, CA 91436