- Drugs / Narcotics Offenses
- Driving Under the Influence (Alcohol or Controlled Substances)
- Murder / Violent Crimes
- Burglary / Criminal Trespass
- Theft / Robbery
- Sexual Offenses
- Traffic Violations
- Commercial Driver License Issues
- Criminal Appeals
- Domestic Violence
- Probation Violations
- Pardons / Expungements
The criminal defense process can be overwhelming and confusing. Sullivan & Williams Law is here to help you navigate this process.
In many cases, a criminal case starts with a preliminary hearing. At this hearing, the Commonwealth has the burden of establishing what is known as a Prima Facie case. This means that the Commonwealth will put on witnesses to testify that, more likely than not a crime was committed and that the defendant is the person that committed the crime. At a preliminary hearing, a defense attorney will have the opportunity to cross examine these witnesses. Credibility cannot be weighed by the judge at a preliminary hearing, as such it is extremely rare for the defense to call witnesses. After a hearing, some or all of the charges will be held for court (sent to the higher court to be prosecuted further) or may be dismissed. If all charges are dismissed, the Commonwealth may elect to refile them as long as it is within the statute of limitations. If this happens, there will be another preliminary hearing scheduled. A defendant may also elect to waive their preliminary hearing. In doing so, the defendant is not admitting guilt. Waiving the hearing could be done for many reasons including consideration for possible diversionary programs.
In most cases, if the charges are held for the next higher court this is where bail will be set (note that in some cases, bail is set at a preliminary arraignment that takes place prior to the preliminary hearing).
Please contact Sullivan & Williams Law for a consultation today if you are facing criminal charges.
The next step in the criminal justice process is the formal arraignment. If represented by an attorney, this event will most likely be waived and the defendant will not have to attend this event. The formal arraignment is designed to let the defendant know what charges they are facing, allows them to enter a plea, and notifies them of the deadlines that start apply for filing various motions.
After formal arraignment, the defense requests discovery from the Commonwealth. After reviewing this, a defendant may file different legal documents such as requesting a Bill of Particulars; an Omnibus Pretrial motion which can include things such as a motion to dismiss charges or the case as a whole or for the suppression of evidence that is improper.
From this point there will be an opportunity for the defendant to enter a guilty or no contest plea. If the defendant decides to proceed to trial, there will be a pretrial conference for the attorneys and the judge to discuss pretrial issues such as possible motions in limine. It should be noted that in different counties some of these procedures may vary slightly.
Sullivan & Williams Law can guide you through this process and handle the specifics of how each county handles criminal cases.