Having a working sense of what happens when the state accuses you of a crime could bring some peace of mind during this chaotic life event.
A few of the details differ from common knowledge.
1. Police notified
The City of Harrisburg has launched an online crime reporting option. This has increased the number of police reports. Make sure that your charges are bona fide. Ask questions and know your rights.
2. Investigation begins
This includes interviews, evidence collection, analyzing the crime scene and identifying suspects.
3. Complaint filed
Police may file the complaint. If they do not, a private citizen may file, with the District Attorney’s approval.
4. Summons given / arrest warrant issued
The accused party may come to court in their own power, or wait for the police to bring them in. For serious cases, a summons is not an option.
5. Preliminary arraignment and hearing initiated
At the first arraignment, the defendant receives a copy of the complaint and a date for their hearing. The hearing then requires the prosecutor to present evidence that a crime occurred.
6. Formal arraignment convened
The defendant now enters a plea: guilty or not guilty.
8. Criminal trial list called
The attorneys for both sides must appear, along with the defendant.
9. Jury selection
Both attorneys will move to exclude certain jurors until 12 remain.
The prosecution must establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The outcome of this depends on statutory minimums and the defendant’s criminal history.
Convicted defendants can also appeal to the Superior Court with the help of legal counsel.