The entire process—from the moment you’re arrested on probable cause that you committed a crime, to the beginning of your trial—can take several months to several years, depending on a number of factors, including whether you’re being charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense.
After your arrest, police officers will write a report and collect evidence against you, all of which they pass to the prosecuting agency, typically the City Attorney’s office or the local District Attorney’s office. It’s then that you’ll have your first formal court proceeding in the criminal law process: your arraignment. At this hearing, you’ll hear the specific charges filed against you. You’ll have the opportunity to enter your plea, and the court can set bail if it chooses.
If you’re charged with a misdemeanor here in California, your arraignment will occur either 48 hours after your arrest if you are being held in custody or around ten days later if you are released. The California Penal Code then gives you the right to go to trial within 30 to 45 days of your arraignment.
If you’re charged with a felony offense, your arraignment will be either 48 hours after your arrest or several months later. You have the right to go to trial within 60 days of your arraignment for a felony offense. A defendant can waive their Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial if their defense attorney needs more time to collect evidence, find and interview witnesses, prepare witness testimony, or conduct legal research.
Before the trial phase, misdemeanor cases have the chance to settle. Felony cases go through pretrial conferences and preliminary hearings to deal with outstanding issues or to negotiate a settlement to resolve the case before litigation.
If your case then proceeds to trial, the evidence against you will be evaluated by 12 jurors who will determine if you’re guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. If you’re convicted, or if you plead guilty or no contest through a plea bargain, you’ll then face sentencing.
All of these steps can take months and even years from start to finish. Your best chance of success is with experienced legal representation at your side as early as possible. At the Carlos Navarrete Law Firm, we’ll evaluate your situation and begin crafting your strongest defense strategy the moment you contact us after an arrest. We have over 55 years of combined legal experience and have defended hundreds of criminal cases at trial. When the next year will determine your entire future, you need dedicated trial liars fighting for you.