A case that has misdemanor charges follows certain rules. A person charged with misdemanors has a right to a jury trial. Misdemeanor charges are generally lesser offenses that carry no more than one year in a county jail facility. Simple thefts, simple assault, battery, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol are examples of misdemeanor charges.
Once a misdemeanor case has been filed the person charged will be arraigned first. This is the first hearing in court. If you have been arrested and are in custody at the time of your arraignment, you have a right to start your trial within 30 days of your arraignment. If you are not in custody on your case, you have a right to start your trial within 45 days of arraignment.
At the time of arraignment you may make a request for the appointment of an attorney if you cannot afford to hire one of your own choosing. An attorney may be provided at that hearing or you may be referred by the court to our offices for additional assistance on your case. Usually the case will be set for trial and/or a "pre-trial conference" during this first appearance.
The "pretrial conference" is scheduled to check on the status of the case and to determine if the case is going to go to trial or to be resolved or dismissed without trial. Your presence at that hearing is required in almost all cases. This is because you will have to make certain decisions about your case that the attorney can't make on your behalf. Between the arraignment and the pretrial conference, you will need to keep in direct contact with your attorney and assist him (or her) with your case.
At the pretrial conference you will decide with your attorney whether your case will proceed to trial. If you decide to take your case to trial, the case will be set for either the original trial date or another date that you, your attorney and the court decide upon.
Once the case is set for trial after the pretrial conference, your case will be heard by a judge who has several probably has other cases waiting for trial. This can cause a problem for you because even though your case is set for a particular day, it may not really start that day. The court will generally have some ability to delay your case for some small time period to wait for a courtroom to open up to hear your case. This generally does not exceed 10 to 15 court working days. During that time you will have to be available to start the case. If you have an attorney to assist you, he may be able to arrange to appear without you being present during these days. However, you will need to make sure that you can be easily reached when the trial is going to start, since it is rarely good for your side of a case if you are not there. Once the trial starts, your case will be heard continuously until completed and a verdict rendered. The details of all of the proceedings that occur in a trial cannot be contained here, so any questions you may have about those proceedings should be left for an office discussion.