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California Criminal Process


Your arraignment will be your first appearance in court whether or not you are in custody. You are formally advised of the charges against you and your constitutional rights. Your Los Angeles criminal defense attorney will receive a formal complaint that states the charges that have been filed against you, as well as the police reports and any additional evidence that the prosecution has in their possession.

In most cases, if you are in custody, BAIL will be set at your arraignment. The purpose of bail is to assure your attendance in court. Some factors a judge will consider include the following: your risk of flight, your length of time in the community, your family ties to the community, your prior record or lack thereof, any failures to appear in court, the nature of the charges against you, and if you pose a danger to the community. A judge may release you on your own recognizance or may set bail at a certain amount. Be aware, there are some offenses where no bail is allowed.


If you were charged with a felony, a preliminary hearing will be held for the judge to decide if there is sufficient evidence to support the charges against you. The standard of proof is quite low, unlike guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

Although your Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer has the opportunity to present your case at this time, for strategic purposes this is usually not done at this hearing. Rather, your attorney will use the preliminary hearing to cross examine the key witnesses against you and lock down their testimony as well as determine inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case.

In some courts, there may be a conference scheduled prior to the preliminary hearing.  This conference is a chance for the prosecution, your attorney and the judge to discuss a possible resolution of your case.


If the judge determines at your preliminary hearing that there is probable cause to support the charges against you, your case will sent to Superior Court for trial. You will then be arraigned on the Information (“charging document”) that will be filed by the prosecutor. The prosecutor may file any additional charges they believe were proven at the preliminary hearing. At this time, you are again formally advised of the charges against you and your constitutional rights and future court dates are assigned.


At your pre-trial conference, your attorney will have the opportunity to continue discussions with the prosecutor in an attempt to reach a favorable plea bargain, sometimes including the judge in this process. At this time, your Los Angeles criminal attorney may be able to work out the best possible deal for you.


If no disposition is reached on your case, it will be set for trial. A jury of twelve impartial individuals is selected to hear the evidence in your case. At trial, both the prosecution and your attorney make opening statements, present evidence, introduce witnesses, cross-examine witnesses and make closing arguments. After closing arguments, the jury will then retire to reach its decision. They must unanimously agree beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the charges filed against you in order to convict you. If they are deadlocked and cannot reach a decision, the judge will declare a mistrial.


If one pleads guilty or is found guilty after trial, the case is set for sentencing. At the sentencing hearing, the judge determines the applicable punishment. In some situations, your attorney will argue reasons why you should receive the lowest possible penalty under the law.


In some cases, after either a plea of guilty or a finding of guilt after trial, the following options may be available:

  • Motion for a New Trial or Motion to Withdraw a Guilty Plea
    These two motions must be addressed on a case by case basis, but both motions attempt to set aside your conviction.
  • Appeal – Again, the facts of each case must be examined to determine if one can bring an appeal and, if so, whether it would have merit. If the defense can prove that you were denied due process of law or that the trial court made legal errors, you may be able to overturn your conviction.
  • Modification of Sentence – In some cases, if placed on probation, it is possible to come back before the sentencing judge and ask for modifications on some of the terms and conditions of your probation.
  • Expungements – In some cases, after you have successfully completed the terms and conditions of your probation, it may be possible to appear before the court and have the conviction removed (“expunged”) from your record.

Office Locations

12711 Ventura Blvd.
Ste. 410
Studio City, CA 91604

11755 Wilshire Boulevard
15th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90025

106 1/2 Judge John Aiso
Ste. #110
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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