How Many Hearings Will Your Criminal Case Require?

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If your local prosecutor receives a report that you committed a crime, they might decide to drop the case or pursue it. If they drop the charges, you might not have any court hearings. On the other hand, you might have multiple hearings if they pursue the charges. The truth is that the number of hearings for a criminal case depends on several factors. Here are some details about hearings in criminal cases to help you learn what to expect with your case.

How You Plead

One factor that affects the number of hearings you have is how you plead to the charges. You can plead in several ways, but the two most common options are guilty and not guilty. If you plead guilty, you will have fewer hearings to attend as the court can eliminate the trial. They can mark the charges as "guilty" and move on to the sentencing hearing.

If you do not want to plead guilty to the charges, you have the legal right to plead not guilty. If you choose this route, you will likely have more hearings to attend. It is smart to speak with your criminal attorney before deciding how to plead.

The Plea Bargain

When a person decides to plead not guilty, the prosecutor assigned to the case might offer a deal. Courts call these deals "plea bargains." A plea bargain basically states that the court requires the person to plead guilty to the charges, but the person might get reduced or fewer charges. If you accept this offer, you can eliminate going through a criminal trial, which means you will have fewer court hearings. Accepting this deal is typically the best route for many people, but it is not always the best option. Again, you can ask your criminal attorney for advice about your case. 

The Trial

There are times when courts do not offer deals to defendants or defendants do not accept them. In these situations, the person will go through a criminal trial. If you choose this option, you will have the most court hearings, as a trial requires many hearings. You will attend the initial hearings, which the court uses for several purposes. You will also have to attend hearings to choose jurors for the trial, and then you will have the trial. After that, you might have a sentencing hearing.

You can learn more about criminal cases by talking to a local criminal defense attorney.