Don’t Worry: Know The Process

Worry is the darkroom where the negatives develop

The Steps of the Legal Process If You’re Charged with a Crime Include:

  • Alleged Crime Occurs
  • Police Investigate
    • Search warrant
  • Indictment or Affidavit filed in Municipal Court
  • Municipal Court Arraignment
    • The defendant enters a plea of guilty or not guilty. The alleged victim does not need to be present unless a protection order is requested. If a Protection Order is requested, the accuser must be present.
  • Presented to County Prosecutor
  • Possible Preliminary Hearing
  • Grand Jury
    • Grand Jury decides if criminal charges should be filed based on the prosecutor’s presentation of police findings.
    • The alleged victim WILL be asked to testify, but MAY not be required. The defendant cannot be present.
  • Common pleas arraignment
  • Pretrial Conference
    • This is when the case is assigned to a judge and a trial date is set.
  • Trial or Plea Acceptance Hearing
    • The victim generally must testify in a trial unless the court finds that the victim’s presence interferes with the suspect’s right to a fair trial.
    • The victim can present (or may decline) a victim impact statement.
  • Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI)
    • During the PSI, the convicted completes forms to the PSI Investigator that includes family history of drug and alcohol use, criminal involvement, character references, their feelings toward the victims, etc. In a written statement, they should tell why they’re requesting a minimum sentence.
  • Sentencing – effective immediately
  • Appeal possible
  • Possible Eligibility for Seal of Records
    • Offenders are eligible after a number of years following completion of sentence, but it depends upon crime, sentencing, and State Law.
    • Contact our office to determine the timeframe for eligibility.

Misdemeanor – Offenses punishable by fine not exceeding $2500 and/or maximum of 12 months in local jail.

Felony – A crime punishable by prison (not local city or county jail) or death

Other Terms to Know

Temporary Protection Order

  • Granted by a municipal or county court judge at no cost to the victim to order the defendant to stay away from the victim. The defendant should not enter the victim’s home or approach them at work or school. Contact can result in re-arrest and a new charge.

Child Protection Order

  • Granted by a domestic relations court to prevent further violence
  • The defendant may have to vacate (move out) of the house or may be evicted and undergo counseling

Civil Stalking or Sexually Oriented Offense Protection Order

  • Granted by Common Pleas Court to ensure the safety of alleged victims of stalking or sexual assault


  • The prosecutor is the ONLY person who decides to continue or dismiss a case. They must communicate with the alleged victim before each of the following: Granting a pretrial diversion; Amending or dismissing a charge; Negotiating a plea agreement; Beginning a trial or hearing.

Information Regarding the Convicted

  • Any victim of an egregious crime can request the following information about the convicted Offender: Results of a communicable disease test; Address of Offender; Sentence Imposed and subsequent modifications; End of definite sentence; Offender’s release including early release.
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