What happens when you are charged with a crime in Pennsylvania

On Behalf of | Sep 15, 2022

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What happens when you are charged with a crime in Pennsylvania

On Behalf of | Sep 15, 2022 | Criminal Law

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.

10. Trial

The prosecution must establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

11. Sentencing

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.

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