THE CRIMINAL PROCESS IN PENNSYLVANIA
Following an arrest, an defendant is arraigned. At the arraignment, the defendant is formally read the charges that have been filed against him or her and a bond. Some of the factors that may be consider by the judge setting the bond is the seriousness of the charges, the individual defendant's criminal history, the defendant's ties to the community and whether or not he would pose a future threat to the community if he or she is released on bond. There are essentially three types of bonds. An R.O.R. bond, a percentage bond and a straight bond.
After arraignment, the next step in the process is called the preliminary hearing. At the preliminary hearing, the Commonwealth must prove a prima facia case if the case is to proceed. The preliminary hearing is an important step in the criminal process because it is often possible to have some of the charges reduced or withdrawn. Additionally, the preliminary hearing is also crucial because one is able to pin down the testimony of some of the prosecution's witnesses. This is particularly important if one wishes to challenge the constitutionality of the stop. This comes into play frequently when one is charged with Driving Under the Influence.
FORMAL ARRAINGMENT AND PRETRIAL CONFERENCE
At the formal arraignment, the individual is formally made aware of the charges that her or she is facing and is given a copy of the criminal information. The pretrial conference gives the criminal defense attorney the opportunity to discuss discovery issues or any pretrial motions with the district attorney.
TRIAL AND SENTENCING
If the case proceeds to trial, a defendant is allowed to cross-examine witness and to present a defense. If found, guilty a defendant can either be sentenced immediately following the trial or following the preparation of a presentence report.