After an arrest, the first court appearance is an arraignment. During the arraignment the defendant is usually given a copy of the complaint which states the charges. After the defendant is notified of the charges against him or her, then the defendant will enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere. During the arraignment, the defendant is given the initial discovery.

The next court date after the arraignment is generally called a pre-trial conference. Different counties have different names for a pre-trial conference, such as cop/set, set/dispo, etc. A pre-trial conference generally consists of negotiations between the prosecutor and your attorney. However, the pre-trial conference can also consist of various pre-trial motions.

After the pre-trial conference and all of the discovery has been provided to the defendant then the defendant has the option to plea guilty/nolo contendere or requesting a trial.








An arraignment is the initial step in the criminal process where the defendant is informed of the charges against him or her and a plea is entered.



Nolo contendere is latin for no contest. A no contest plea is the same as a guilty plea in a criminal case. However, it is common for defendants to plea no contest in criminal cases because they are not admitting guilt for civil liabilty purposes.



A complaint is the document that lists the charges or accusations made by the prosecuting agency against the defendant. The purpose of the complaint is to give the defendant sufficient notice of the accusations brought by the state. Therefore, the complaint should contain the code section of each accusation, words that explain the code section, and whether the code section is an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony.



Discovery is evidence that each party discloses to the other party. In criminal cases the prosecution is required to give the defendant evidence that the prosecution intends to use at trial and any evidence that tends to clear, justify or excuse a defendant from the charges alleged on the complaint. The evidence can consist of police reports, defendant's criminal record, photographs, video tapes, witness statements, blood test results, etc.



A motion is an application to the court requesting the court to rule in your favor. For example, in a DUI case, a defendant can file a motion requesting the court to suppress the evidence in his or her case based on the police officer making an illegal stop of the defendant's car.



A trial is where the prosecutor presents evidence to try and prove that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the charges alleged on the complaint or information. In a criminal case, the defendant has the option of a bench trial or jury trial. A bench trial is where the evidence is presented to a judge and the judge determines if the defendant is guilty or not guilty of the charges alleged on the complaint. A jury trial is where the evidence is presented to twelve citizens. All twelve citizens have to find the defendant guilty or not guilty of the alleged charges.

Marsanne Weese - Attorney at Law

Law Offices of Marsanne Weese
255 Kansas Street
Suite 340
San Francisco, CA 94103

Telephone: (415) 565-9600
Fax: (415) 565-9601

Criminal Defense:
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Marsanne Weese represents clients through Northern and Central California.

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