Criminal Process

Stages of a Criminal Case

Crime is committed/reported

Investigation by Law Enforcement
(Reports are submitted by law enforcement, and
the County Attorney issues a summons or warrant.) 

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Suspect Located and/or Arrested

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When the most severe charge is a

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First Appearance
The defendant is informed of the charges, an attorney is appointed, and a date is set for a preliminary hearing. No evidence is presented.

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Preliminary Hearing
The State presents evidence to establish "probable cause" that the defendant committed a felony. If the court finds sufficient evidence, 
the defendant is bound over for trial; if the court does not find sufficient evidence, the defendant goes to trial for any misdemeanor charges. Subpoenas are issued for this hearing.

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This is basically another first appearance, but counsel has already been appointed. The defendant will either enter a plea of guilty and the case proceeds to sentencing, or he/she 
will enter a plea of not guilty and a trial date 
is set. No evidence is presented.

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The trial can be heard by either the Judge or a jury. In a felony case 12 jurors are called; in a misdemeanor case 6 jurors are called. All victims and witnesses may be subpoenaed to testify.

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Victims are notified of the sentencing date and encouraged to fill out a Victim Impact Statement prior to sentencing. The Judge will take the victim's comments into consideration at sentencing. Each victim has the right to address the court in person at sentencing. 


In Some criminal cases the defendants are allowed to apply for a diversion. diversion program in the criminal justice system is a form of sentence in which the criminal offender joins a rehabilitation program, which will help remedy the behavior leading to the original arrest, allow the offender to avoid conviction and, in some jurisdictions, hide a criminal record. Criminal charges are typically dropped when a defendant successfully completes a diversion program. Please review eligibility requirements and guidelines here before submitting the diversion application along with the $25 money order. To apply for diversion on a criminal offense please follow the link below:

Criminal Diversion Application

*** Please Note***  CDL Licensed drivers are NOT eligible for diversion in any situation.