Criminal Court System & Standard Procedure

Please see the misdemeanor and felony procedure flowcharts on this page.

The Investigation

After an alleged crime is committed, law enforcement will begin an investigation. Depending on the facts and evidence of the case, law enforcement may immediately arrest a suspect or may continue with the investigation until a suspect is identified.

District Attorney's Review

When law enforcement finishes its investigation, it will refer the case to the district attorney. The district attorney will review the evidence collected to determine if there is enough to issue formal charges against the suspect.

Initial Appearance

Explains the nature of the charge, penalties that could be imposed, attorney representation, and bond set.


During the arraignment, the defendant will enter a plea of not guilty, guilty, or no contest.

Preliminary Hearing

For felony offenses, the defendant will be scheduled for a preliminary hearing, during which they have a chance to hear the evidence being presented against them and the prosecutor must demonstrate they have probable cause to press charges.


Written or verbal request to be heard before the court for a legal decision.

Status Conference

The defense advises the judge on how they wish to proceed with the case.

Pretrial Conference

The defense meets to review the case and discuss any possible offers and/or recommendations.


During the trial, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt with evidence and testimony that the defendant is guilty of a crime.


The judge will determine the sentence to impose according to state laws.