What Are The Stages Of A Criminal Case For Felonies?

What Are The Stages Of A Criminal Case For Felonies?

Felonies are considered as the most serious types of offenses (in criminal law). They include:

There are other serious crimes which are also considered as felonies. The legal stages of felonies are often very confusing. If you are being charged with a felony, or just want to get informed, you should speak with our Criminal Defense Lawyers in Pittsburgh today. Schedule a free initial consultation and learn everything about felonies and what to expect if you have been charged with one.

In order to prepare your defense, you should understand the legal process first. Here are the legal steps common for almost all felonies.


If a law enforcement officer witnesses a crime being committed, he or she has the right to arrest the person committing a crime, based on “probable cause”. Once arrested, you will be taken into custody before you appear in front of a judge within 24 hours of your arrest. If you are simply cited, you will be required to appear before a judge on a specified date in your citation.

The Initial Appearance

Once you appear in front of a judge for the very first time, the judge will read all the charges against you and explain to you the situation you are in, as well as your basic rights. After carefully reading the charges against you, the judge will decide whether to keep you in jail or release you on a bond. If ordered to be released, the judge will explain the conditions of your release, and set a court date when you will have to appear. Usually, the conditions of your release depend on the severity of the crime that you have committed and your criminal history. After getting released, you are free until the preliminary hearing.

Preliminary Hearing

At the hearing, the judge will evaluate whether there is probable cause that you committed the crime for which you are being charged. You are allowed to bring an attorney (and should do so in every situation).  Your criminal defense attorney will cross-examine any witnesses the prosecution presents at this stage. 

Another similar (yet different) situation is the one where the prosecution calls a grand jury, which will then establish probable cause. And usually, if the grand jury establishes a probable cause, the defendant’s rights are limited and he or she cannot do anything to change their decision. 


At this point, you can do two things:

  • Plead guilty
  • Plead Not guilty

You may also choose to plead “no contest”. This means that you are acknowledging the charges, but not necessarily admitting them. The judge will review the bail and set the next court date for the trial.

Trial and Sentencing

If you plead “not guilty”, the case goes to trial. At this point, you will want the best criminal defense attorney by your side, fighting for your rights and freedom. Give our Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Lawyers a call, and secure the right protection and legal representation ahead of time. 

The trial is where all the evidence is presented either before a judge or jury. You will be able to testify, should you wish to do so. In the end, the judge or jury will reevaluate the evidence and determine whether or not you are guilty of committing the crimes that you were charged with. If their decision is unanimous, you will be convicted and sentenced to time in jail or prison, depending on the severity of the crimes that you committed.

Always consult with experienced criminal defense attorneys as soon as you are able to. They are your only chance of walking away as a free man.