After a complaint is filed or an indictment is issued, the defendant will appear in court to be informed of the charges and to enter a plea. This is called the arraignment.
Our office offers assistance throughout the criminal process for victims and witnesses. The District Attorney's Office cannot give legal advise to a defendant who is representing himself or herself. A person is not treated differently if he or she is represented by an attorney or acting without an attorney (this is known as representing oneself pro se).
Bail can be an amount of money and/or conditions that are designed to ensure the defendant will appear in court and the community is kept safe. For a person who does not present a danger to the community, does not have an arrest record, or does not present a risk of flight or failure to appear, bail will be recommended to be personal recognizance. In situations of an arrest history, evidence of risk of flight or failure to appear, or posing a danger to a victim(s) or the community, the State will request cash bail and/or conditions. Every bail situation is based on the specific facts of the case or history of the defendant and it will be taken on a case-by-case basis.
The different police agencies within Cumberland County initiate investigations, which is the basis for criminal charges. Misdemeanors are set forth on “complaints” or “information.” The Cumberland County Grand Jury hears evidence and will issue charges as part of an “Indictment” if there is probable cause to support the charge(s).
During this conference, the parties will meet with a judge and discuss the merits of the evidence, the defense, and any pretrial motions. If a settlement is not reached during the dispositional conference, the case will proceed to jury selection and trial.
After the arraignment, the defendant has until 10 days preceding the dispositional conference date to file motions.
A plea negotiation usually involves a specific sentence recommendation or dismissal of certain charges by the state in exchange for a guilty plea from the defendant on specific charges. Every recommendation on a plea agreement is made on a case-by-case basis, and is done so based on the facts of the case, the defendant’s involvement in the criminal justice system, victim and law enforcement input, and in the interests of justice. An ideal solution for any case involving a defendant is a plea agreement which changes the defendant’s behavior so that he/she is never again involved in the criminal justice system as a defendant.
After the defendant either pleads guilty or is found guilty after a trial, the judge determines the sentence.
A subpoena is a court order directing you to be available to appear in court for a certain time period.
In a trial, the state must prove through the presentation of testimony and evidence that the defendant is guilty of the alleged charges beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard in the legal system. A “trial by jury” is a trial in which the fact-finders are 12 individuals picked from the community (“The Jury”) who hear the evidence and the law and make a unanimous decision if the defendant is “guilty” or “not guilty.” A “bench trial” is a trial in which the fact-finder is a Judge or Justice of the Unified Criminal Court.
If you have suffered monetary losses as a direct result of a crime the judge can order the defendant to pay you back as part of the sentence.