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Stages of a Criminal Case

In addition to aggressive defense in DUI cases, we can also provide comprehensive defense representation to clients facing charges for assault, domestic violence, etc. If you've been arrested in Southwest Washington (Thurston, Pierce, Lewis, Mason, etc.) an experienced lawyer from Baldwin Legal Group can help. After an arrest, you may feel overwhelmed by the thought of going to court. That's why our attorneys are dedicated to giving clients the best representation they can offer and helping them understand the criminal case process. If you're uncertain about the legal proceedings ahead, here are some things that you can expect:

Posting Bail

After an arrest, you will usually be taken into custody and booked (processed) at the police department. Sometimes, suspects are given the opportunity to "post bail." In other words, you may be able to pay a specific sum of money in exchange for your release. Generally speaking, you can post bail after processing, but you will only be released if you promise to appear for future court dates. For example, you may agree to appear at your arraignment, preliminary hearing, trial, etc. You do not necessarily have to post bail immediately after your arrest; the judge may allow your release at a future court appearance as well. 


Arraignment usually occurs within a few days after your arrest. Generally speaking, arraignment occurs when the suspect pleads guilty. During arraignment, the judge will read your charges, ask if you need an attorney, ask if you plead guilty/not guilty, and announce future court dates. During arraignment, you have the right to hire a legal representation, called the "right of counsel." Without a lawyer present, you may be appointed a public defender.

Pretrial Hearings

Generally speaking, a pretrial hearing is an opportunity for the prosecutor and defense attorney to discuss the case and talk about any possible resolutions that are possible. You are required to attend all pretrial hearings unless specifically instructed otherwise by the judge.

Motion Hearings

Motion hearings are somewhat like a “trial before the trial.” During the hearing, the judge will listen to evidence for and against your case. The prosecutor (a government lawyer) will display evidence against you, and your DUI defense lawyer will have the opportunity to argue in your favor. This might involve witness testimony, cross examinations and other pieces of evidence. Your attorney will bring any questionable evidence to the judge's attention. If the prosecution's case is not based on solid evidence, the judge may dismiss your case. Generally speaking, motion hearings keep unnecessary cases from going to trial.

Criminal Trials

Many criminal cases are resolved during the arraignment and pretrial hearing process. If your case goes to trial, it will involve six distinct stages: jury selection, opening statements, witness testimony, closing arguments, jury instruction, and jury discussion/verdict. During the trial, the prosecution must be able to demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant is guilty. Like the motion hearing, the trial will probably involve witness testimony, cross examinations and other forms of evidence. After the defense and prosecution have presented their cases, a jury will determine whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.


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