Court Process

Felony Offenses
Misdemeanor Offenses
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What is an Arraignment?
An arraignment is the defendant’s first appearance in front of a Judge after their arrest. This is when they are formally charged and either bail is set or the defendant is released. At this time, the defendant will be informed about their rights, and a new court date will be set. An order of Protection may be issued on behalf of the victim in this case.

What is a Preliminary Hearing?

This procedure is held before a Criminal Court Judge in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred. The purpose is to establish reasonable cause that a crime occurred and that the defendant may have committed the crime charged. For various legal reasons, sometimes the preliminary hearing is not held and the case will be presented directly to the Grand Jury.

What is a Grand Jury?

The Grand Jury is composed of 23 random citizens from this community. It meets approximately ten times per year and hears about seven cases per session. The purpose of the Grand Jury is to decide if there is enough evidence to prove that the defendant committed a certain crime. There is no Judge present in the Grand Jury meets, only the victim, any witnesses and the District Attorney are present in the Gran Jury room. The defendant and their attorney are not present; however the defendant may testify if he/she chooses to do so. The Grand Jury decides whether the evidence against the defendant is sufficient enough to warrant a trial on a felony charge. After an indictment is filed against the defendant, they are arraigned again before a judge in a Superior Court.

What is a Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI)?
A PSI is material consisting of the defendant’s prior convictions, family, employment history, education, social backgrounds, and a victim impact statement prepared by the Probation Department to assist the trial court in sentencing a criminal defendant after he/she has been convicted.

What is a Victim Impact Statement?

If the defendant is convicted or pleads guilty, the victim and/or their family can write a letter to the Judge to express their feelings about the crime and the impact that it has had on their lives. This statement can be read at sentencing by the writer or by the District Attorney.

What will happen at Sentencing?
At sentencing the punishment ordered by the Court will be handed down to the person convicted of a crime. The victim and family may attend the sentencing and/or speak if they wish. The Sentence may include restitution, fines, community service, counseling, probation, incarceration, or a combination of one or more.

What is an Order of Protection?
There are two types of orders of protection – (1) Stay Away Order and (2) Refrain from order.

Stay Away Order
  • Directs the defendant to stay away from you, and to have no communication with you via telephone, internet, or by mail
  • It is a Court Order naming you as a protected party, which a can only be changed by the Judge
Refrain From Order
  • The defendant can be near, but must refrain from any harassing, threatening, or committing any violent act against you
What is Restitution?
Restitution is the compensation paid to a victim by the perpetrator of a criminal offense for the losses or injuries incurred as a result of a criminal offense. Restitution must be ordered by the Court at the time of Sentencing.

Who is entitled to Restitution?
Anyone who has been the victim of a criminal offense and has suffered injuries, economic losses, or damages can seek restitution.

How can I ask for Restitution?
Contact the District Attorney’s Office and let them know the extent of you injury, your out of pocket loss, and the amount of damages your are requesting, it is necessary to provide the Crime Victim Services Coordinator with copies of bills and other documents showing the extent of your injuries, out of pocket losses, and the amount of damages you want considered by the Court.
Be sure to keep accurate records such as original receipts of any expenses you have as a direct result of the criminal offense.

When can I expect my Restitution money?
Restitution payments are generally made to the Probation Department by the defendant at the conclusion of the criminal case once the Judge has made the determination of an amount. Payments are based on the amount, ability of the defendant to pay, and are disbursed evenly among the victims. The local Probation Department will then send a check to you accordingly. Always notify the Probation Department of any change of address.