- ID Hearing (in Juvenile Court, an ID hearing is called a Detention Hearing.)
If you are charged with a crime, your first hearing will be an Identification Hearing (or “ID”). At your ID hearing, the court will determine who will be representing you in your case, review your case for probable cause, and set any conditions of release for your case, including bond.
“Probable Cause” is not a chance for you to argue your side of the case. In order to establish probable cause, the state need only present the court with a declaration from law enforcement that tends to raise a reasonable chance you committed the crime. It is a very low standard. You may believe that the declaration incorrectly states some facts; however, this is not the hearing at which those facts should be argued.
Bond and other release conditions will be determined based on your flight risk and the danger you present to the community. “Flight risk” may be determined by your past warrant history, as well as your behavior during your encounter with law enforcement. “Community safety” will be determined based on your criminal history and the nature of the charges for which probable cause has been found.
You will then either immediately proceed to your arraignment, or a date for your arraignment will be set.
At arraignment, your formal charges will be presented to the court. You will acknowledge that you understand your charges, and you will enter a plea of either “Guilty” or “Not Guilty.” At this point in the case, it is rarely a good idea to enter a plea of “Guilty.” Once you enter a plea, a scheduling order will be issued establishing the dates and times of your future court appearances.
- Omnibus (adult felony only)
An omnibus hearing is simply a hearing to make sure that everyone has or is getting all the information they need. Both parties will have submitted an “omnibus application” to the court, requesting discovery of information. An “omnibus order” will issue, which will determine those motions or discovery yet remaining in the case.
The prosecutor’s omnibus application may also contain a list of “holdback” charges. These are charges used by the prosecution to apply pressure to you in order to leverage a plea of guilty. By not entering a plea of guilty at pretrial, the charges listed in the prosecutor’s omnibus application may be added to the charges pending against you.
Pre-trial is the hearing at which you determine whether you will be accepting any offers from the prosecution. If you are, it is likely that you will change your plea to “guilty.” If not, then you will inform the court that you are proceeding to trial.
At trial, a jury will consider your guilt or your innocence. A jury does not hear any mitigating information, and will not consider your sentence. Evidence must be presented to the jury according to the rules of evidence.
In Juvenile Court, a trial is called a Fact-Finding and there is no right to a jury; a judge will decide the case.
- Sentencing (In Juvenile Court, a sentencing is called a Disposition.)
If, at any point, the court finds you guilty (through plea or jury verdict), you will then proceed to sentencing. If you are being sentenced for a felony, the sentence shall occur pursuant to the Sentencing Reform Act; if you are being sentenced to a misdemeanor, the judge will generally have discretion to sentence you to any sentence up to and including the maximum.