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Criminal Cases

When Someone Is Charged With A Misdemeanor

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The following is not legal advice but is for information only. Legal advice is when an attorney applies the law to a person's individual circumstances and advises them on their legal options or potential exposure to legal harm, which a web page clearly does not.

Initially a person charged will be given a date and time to appear in court or will either be arrested and be denied bail (sometimes a bail bondsman cannot grant any bail because of the type of offense) or the person will be unable to pay an amount set before appearing in any court. If the latter is the case, the person charged will be appearing from the jail and there will be a hearing within 48 hours of arrest. This is both a constitutional right and set out in statute.

If the person is appearing because they have been given notice to appear, or they are appearing in custody, the first hearing will be the same. It is called an arraignment. At that point it is highly likely that the on-call attorney will make a bail argument or let the client's attorney (either court-appointed or retained) make one on your behalf at a later date. At that hearing, the person will plead - normally not guilty to allow their defense attorney to get full discovery, make legal arguments, and decide together with the client whether it should go to trial or end the matter with a negotiated plea deal.

Part of the process down the road - often months later - a hearing called a dispositional conference is held. These are informal conversations between the judge and both the prosecutor and defense attorney about how to resolve a case.

If there is no resolution, hearings will be set on any motions then filed. It could be put on a docket list too and be set for trial, or there could be another hearing to see if a resolution can be reached. These are often given grand-sounding titles like a status conference. The pressure to plead guilty is immense. It is a brave defendant who can withstand that pressure.

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