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The general procedure for a felony case is outlined below, and typically takes about 6 months from filing of the complaint through trial. The felony process is formal, and defendants are required to be present for every court hearing.

  1. Complaint/Indictment Filed
    Formal charging document prepared either by the District Attorney or the Grand Jury.
  2. Arraignment on the Charges
    The charges are read to the defendant, he is informed of his constitutional rights, and he enters a not guilty plea.
  3. Settlement/Negotiation/Readiness Conference
    First opportunity for the defense attorney, the prosecutor, and the judge to discuss and negotiate the case. In federal court the judge does not participate in the negotiation or plea bargaining process.
  4. Preliminary Examination
    The prosecution will present evidence to a judge to establish that there is sufficient cause to take the case to trial.
  5. Motions Hearings
    Depending on the specific facts of each case, various motions can be filed and argued. Typical motions include motions to suppress evidence, discovery motions, and Pitchess motions.
  6. Settlement/Negotiation/Readiness Conference
    An additional opportunity for the defense attorney, the prosecutor, and the judge to discuss a possible resolution to the case.
  7. Trial
    The defendant is entitled to a jury trial or, with the consent of the prosecutor, to a bench trial (a trial by a judge).

Appeals Case ProcessMisdemeanor Case ProcessFelony Case Process