Criminal Justice Process

The "Process" of the Criminal Justice System"


Law Enforcement

Report Generated, Defendant Arrested

Intake Deputy District Attorney (Makes filing decision)

  • Intake deputy reviews the case and the history of the defendant.
  • He/she decides whether or not to file the case, what charges to file and whether or not the charges will be misdemeanor or felony.

Arraignment (the first time the defendant appears in court)

  • Charges are read.
  • Judge asks if the defendant can afford an attorney. (If not, one is appointed.
  • Bail Review.

Superior Court Review (the judge, deputy district attorney and defense attorney try to come to an agreement regarding the case)

  • Usually takes more than one court hearing.
  • Victim does not have to attend, but may if he/she chooses.
  • If case does not settle, a preliminary hearing is set (only in felony cases).

Preliminary Hearing - Felony Cases Only - (A hearing held to present evidence regarding the case.)

  • Case is presented in a court other than Department 60.
  • Victim usually testifies.
  • Victim will have been ordered to court by a judge, or have received a subpoena from the District Attorney's office.
  • Officers who took the report, or witnessed the incident also testify.
  • A subpoena is a written order requiring the victim/witness to come to court.
  • The subpoena will have the date, time and place he/she needs to appear.
  • If subpoenaed person does not come to court, a warrant may be issued for his/her arrest.
  • Judge will hear the evidence and decide if there is enough to set a jury trial.
  • If there is sufficient evidence, a trial date will be set.

Jury Trial (The case is presented in front of a jury.)

  • Case is presented in a court other than Department 60.
  • A jury is a group of 12 people. There may be alternate jurors selected.
  • Jury decides if the defendant is guilty or not guilty.
  • Victim usually testifies.
  • Victim will have been ordered by a judge to appear or have received a subpoena.
  • Officers who took the report or witnessed the incident also testify.
  • Other witnesses including family or neighbors may testify
  • If the jury finds the defendant guilty, the case will be sent to probation for a sentencing report, unless waived by the defendant.

Judgment & Sentence (The judge sentences the defendant.)

  • Victim has the right to make a victim impact statement. Statement should include:
    • What happened (the incident)
    • The impact the crime has had on the victim's life
    • What the victim would like to see happen