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What are the different types of hearings or trials?

A number of hearings or trials can be held during a misdemeanor or felony case.


Hearing or Trial Type What Happens During the Hearing or Trial
Arraignment Hearing During an arraignment hearing you:
  • Have your first court appearance
  • Are advised of constitutional rights
  • Are appointed an attorney if unable to afford one
  • Are advised of the nature of the charges against you
  • Enter a guilty, not guilty or no contest plea
  • May be released on your own recognizance or the judge sets bail and you are remanded to the custody of the Sheriff

If you are charged with a misdemeanor and plead not guilty to the charges, you must be brought to trial with 30 days of being arraigned if you are in custody, and 45 days if you are on bail or your own recognizance.

If you are charged with a felony and plead not guilty to the charges, your preliminary hearing must be held within 10 days of being arraigned.

Pretrial Hearing

During a pretrial hearing:

  • Discovery is exchanged between prosecution and defense
  • Motions may be made to set aside the complaint, to dismiss the case, to suppress evidence, etc.
  • You may change plea to guilty or no contest
Preliminary Hearing

During a preliminary hearing, a determination is made if there is sufficient evidence the defendant committed the alleged felony offense. If there is sufficient evidence, the defendant is held to answer otherwise the case is dismissed.

If the defendant is held to answer, the prosecutor files an Information document with the court. The defendant must be arraigned on the Information within 15 days of the held to answer date. Trial must be held within 60 days of the date of arraignment on the Information.

Preliminary hearings are held for felony cases.

Jury Trial

The jury trial includes:

  • Jury selection by the attorneys
  • during the trial
  • Evidence is presented
  • Decision of guilty or not guilty at the end of the trial made by the jury

If the jury finds you are not guilty you:

  • Are released
  • Cannot be retried for the same crime

If the jury finds you are guilty:

  • The case may be continued for sentencing
  • You may be sentenced immediately
Court Trial

You may agree to proceed with a court trial instead of a jury trial. During a court trial the judge:

  • Hears the evidence and arguments
  • Decides if the defendant is guilty or not guilty

Court trials may also be called bench trials

Sentencing Hearing A judge will decide your penalty or punishment after hearing from your attorney and the district attorney on their ideas of what should be your sentence. Your sentence can include:
  • Payment of a fine
  • Time in county jail
  • Time in state prison
  • Restitution
  • Probation
  • Alternative sentencing
Post Sentence or Probation Violation Hearing You will be told of any modifications or changes to Court orders made after you have been sentenced.
Copyright 2014 Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles