Misdemeanor Procedures

The timing and procedures in misdemeanor cases will vary. Some courts require an arraignment. Others first schedule a pretrial conference. Still others set the matter for trial.

Will I Have A Formal Arraignment?

The purpose of an arraignment is to inform you of the charge against you and the penalties, to find out how you plead, and to set bond. You may have already been arraigned. If you appeared before a judge or magistrate via video, your arraignment is typically complete. An arraignment is not technically necessary in misdemeanor cases. In most courts, when you hire an attorney, the attorney can waive the arraignment, avoiding the inconvenience of an additional court date.

Pretrial Conference

Typically the first court date where you appear with your attorney will be your pretrial. It typically is scheduled four to six weeks after the arraignment or arrest. At your pretrial, your attorney will meet with the prosecutor. A plea offer can be discussed, copies of reports and statements can be made, and a trial schedule can be set. If you decide to accept a plea, except in drinking and driving cases, your case may be over that day! If not, your case may be adjourned for a new pretrial or for trial in about four to six more weeks.

Your Trial Date

Your earliest trial date is four to six weeks after the pretrial conference. You will need to choose between a jury trial and a bench trial, (e.g., one decided by the judge and not the jury). You can still negotiate a plea on the trial date, and many trial dates are set knowing that a plea and not a trial will take place on the trial date. (For example, you may set your case for trial to gain time to gather money for fines and costs, or to attend counseling, or to review police report and statements.) Should you intend to conduct trial, in appropriate cases, your attorney will need time to subpoena witnesses, gather documentary evidence, and meet with you in preparation of trial. Additional attorney fees will be due in advance of trial.

Sentencing

In most misdemeanor cases, sentencing will take place on the day of your conviction or plea. If not, it is typically four to six additional weeks before sentencing will take place.