The defendant is formally notified of the charges filed, advised of his or her rights, and bail is set. If the defendant cannot afford an attorney, a public defender is appointed by the court to represent the defendant. The pre-trial and trial dates are set. If the defendant pleads guilty, he or she will proceed directly to sentencing.
At this hearing, a judge decides if there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial. If the defendant pleads guilty, he or she will proceed directly to sentencing. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the case proceeds to trial. Often a plea agreement is discussed at this time.
At the trial, both the prosecutor and the defense attorney present their case to a judge or a jury. Both sides may call witnesses to testify. At the end of a criminal case, the prosecutor must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
If the defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty following a trial, a judge may proceed directly to sentencing or schedule a separate sentencing hearing. A pre-sentence investigation (PSI) is not automatically ordered, but one may be requested.
Note: This is the standard process. Additional hearings may be scheduled at the request of either party.