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Superior Court of California - County of San Diego: Criminal: Criminal Case Types: Felony
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Felony Cases

Examples of charges

Types of sentences imposed

  • Probation
  • Local custody
  • State prison
  • Death

Felony processing generally includes:

  • An arrest is made
  • The defendant is taken to jail where either:
    • No charges are filed and defendant is released
      For further information, contact the prosecuting agency:
    • Defendant posts bail and is released with a future date to appear in court
    • Defendant is released on his or her own recognizance with date for future hearing
    • Defendant remains in custody until court hearing (arraignment)

Arraignment - the defendant is

  • Informed of the charges
  • Advised of his or her constitutional rights
  • Appointed an attorney, if he or she cannot afford one
  • A plea is entered by the defendant:
    • Not Guilty - he or she did not commit the crime
    • Guilty - admits that he or she committed the crime
    • No Contest (Nolo Contendere) - the charge is not contested.  Same effect as guilty plea
  • At the court hearing:
    • Bail is set and the defendant is remanded to custody
    • Defendant is released on his or her own recognizance

Preliminary Hearing

  • Prosecuting agency files an information document
  • Judge determines if there is sufficient evidence to hold the defendant for trial
  • Defendant is arraigned on the information and enters a plea and proceeds to trial

Readinesss Conference

  • Discovery is exchanged between the prosecutor and defense attorney
  • Pretrial motions may be filed such as a motion to
    • Set aside complaint
    • Dismiss the case
    • Suppress evidence
  • Defendant's plea may be changed to
    • Guilty
    • No contest


Jury Trial

  • A jury is selected
  • Opening statements are presented
  • Witnesses may testify
  • Evidence is presented
  • Closing statements are presented
  • Jury deliberates and delivers verdict to the court

Court Trial

  • Judge hears evidence and arguments

If the defendant is found guilty:

  • The case may be continued for sentencing; or
  • The defendant is sentenced immediately

If the defendant is found not guilty:

  • The defendant is released

Appeal of conviction

  • The defendant may appeal a conviction to the Court of Appeal of the State of California

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