Criminal Law Case Progression

The following outlines the general case progression for a misdemeanor offense. Felony cases will typically have additional hearings and motions.

  1. Alleged offense date
  2. Arrest or citation
  3. Initial appearance or arraignment
  4. One or more docket calls as the case progresses
    • If a jury trial is desired, the case will be set for a jury docket call and an additional hearing usually be held for pretrial motions.
  5. Final disposition of the case
    • Dismissal, plea or plea bargain, or trial
  6. Sentencing (if found guilty or entered a plea)
  7. Jail or other sentence commences (if found guilty or entered a plea)

At your initial appearance, the court will read the charges to you and inform you of the potential penalties for the offense. They will ask you how you want to plea (Guilty, No Contest, Not Guilty) and inquire whether you are able to afford an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint the public defender or a private attorney to represent you. If you plead guilty or no contest at your initial appearance, the court may sentence you on the spot for minor offenses or set a later date for sentencing.

You should always have an attorney review the charges against you to (1) assess whether the state actually has sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction, (2) to determine if you have any defenses, and (3) to inquire whether the state is willing to let you plea to reduced charges.

Note: the court will only appoint an attorney on your behalf for criminal cases where jail is a possible penalty for your offense and you do not have the means to hire your own attorney.

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Potential clients can call our firm at (402) 937-9299 to schedule an initial consultation, or contact us online. All communications between our firm and potential clients remain confidential.