There are multiple phases of the criminal justice process that can feel overwhelming for individuals with charges pending against them. Instead of facing the courtroom alone, you can prepare by understanding the phases of a criminal case in Georgia as well as hire an experienced Marietta criminal defense attorney.
1. First Appearance Hearing
A first appearance takes place in jail within 48 hours, for arrest warrants, or 72 hours, without a warrant. The judge reads the charges against you, enters into the record if you have a Marietta criminal defense lawyer, and determines whether or not to set bail.
2. Probable Cause Hearing
Probable cause hearings determine if there is enough evidence against you to take the case to a bench or jury trial. It is generally set within two weeks of your arrest. You do not have to make a plea at this time.
An arraignment is your first appearance before the judge assigned to your case. During this hearing, it is your opportunity to understand the charges against you, your rights, and how you plead your case.
4. Motions Hearings
After your arraignment, the case moves into the exchange of evidence. Your Marietta criminal defense lawyer and the district attorney’s office will file requests to the court through documents known as motions.
For instance, your attorney can use motions to request the exclusion of evidence or reduce bail. While not all motions require a formal hearing, the judge may require you to appear.
5. Calendar Call Hearing
A calendar call hearing is one that you and your lawyer will attend. It is an opportunity for both sides to update the court regarding case progress while asking the judge lingering questions.
If the case is ready for trial, the judge will set it at calendar call. Otherwise, the exchange of evidence, known as discovery, will continue.
6. Plea Hearings
Plea negotiations are generally part of criminal proceedings. After discussing the facts of the case, your case may result in a negotiated or non-negotiated plea agreement.
Negotiated plea agreements occur when you and the state’s attorney agree to a specific plea and punishment. A non-negotiated plea agreement occurs if you want to admit guilt, but do not agree to the punishment.
In either case, a judge must approve or reject the plea agreement according to his or her best discretion.
If your case goes to trial, you elect to attend a bench trial or a jury trial. In a bench trial, the judge presiding over your case determines the outcome. A jury trial is heard before twelve peers (six if only charged with a misdemeanor) that will determine your innocence or guilt.
When a judge or jury finds a defendant guilty, then a sentence must be imposed. The judge can sentence you at trial or take more time to decide upon an appropriate penalty at a later sentencing hearing. Punishments may include fines, jail time, community service, and more.
Reach Out to a Marietta Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help
If you need tenacious legal representation to fight the charges against you, contact a Marietta criminal defense lawyer at the Law Office of Adam H. Miller, LLC. Request a free consultation today by calling 404-369-0048 or sending us a message through our contact form.