Legal Updates

The Stages of a Criminal Matter

A criminal case is often a marathon and not a sprint.

From the point of initial arrest to conclusion of your case, months may pass as you await your trial.  Your case will go through the system, and you will reach various checkpoints along the way.  An attentive criminal lawyer will shepherd you along these checkpoints with efficiency and skill.

The Arrest:  All criminal cases begin with an arrest or a summons to appear.  Often times, the summons is used when the criminal charges are not brought immediately.  This is the first stage of the process.

The Preliminary Arraignment:  After you are arrested, you will be brought before a judge or magistrate. The judge will set your bail in the matter.  You may receive your summons to appear in court at the Preliminary Arraignment.  If you have retained a lawyer for this phase, he or she may argue to reduce your bail.

The Consultation: At some point after your Preliminary Arraignment, you should speak with at least one Philadelphia criminal defense attorney about the merits of your case and possible defenses.

Preliminary Hearing:  If you are not a juvenile, and you face the prospect of a felony conviction, you have a right to a Preliminary Hearing.  At the Hearing your defense attorney will confront the evidence against you and try to get your charges dismissed.  The State must establish a prima facie case of guilt to proceed.

Arraignment:  After the Preliminary Hearing, you may be arraigned in Common Pleas Court if the charges are held.  You attorney will receive a discovery packet and offer on the case.  This is where the case begins to accelerate. 

Motions Phase:  After the arraignment, your lawyer has thirty days to file various motions with the court. These motions are usually filed using a Pre-Trial Omnibus motion.  This Omnibus may include, but is not limited to, a motion to suppress, motion to quash, motion for release on nominal bail, etc.

Plea or Trial: If the case is not resolved by offer or motion, it shall likely proceed to trial.  At trial, the State must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  This is the highest standard of proof.  

A criminal matter is a marathon, not a sprint.  It is important that you have a knowledgeable Philadelphia criminal lawyer during this time.  It may be the most important race of your life.

The Law Office of Mark D. Copoulos offers a free consultation.  Call us at (267) 535-9776 to set up an appointment to discuss your criminal matter.