Understanding the criminal trial process is crucial if you or a loved one faces criminal charges in San Diego. This knowledge enables defendants and their families to navigate the complexities of the legal system more effectively. It helps manage expectations throughout various stages of litigation and allows for informed decision-making when consulting with criminal defense attorneys

Knowing what to anticipate also lessens uncertainty, ensuring that your rights are protected so you can respond appropriately at each phase. The following is an overview of the steps in a criminal trial in San Diego:

Arrest and Charges

In San Diego, an individual may be arrested if law enforcement has probable cause to believe they’ve committed a crime. Once in custody, the individual is taken to a police station for booking – a process that includes fingerprinting and recording personal information. Following arrest, formal charges are determined by the prosecutor’s office.

As soon as you’re arrested in San Diego, it’s important to know your rights, like the right to remain silent and the right to be represented by an attorney. 

Arraignment Hearing

The next step is arraignment. During an arraignment in San Diego, you’ll face the formal reading of charges. At this hearing, you will enter a plea: guilty, not guilty, or no contest. 

Bail may also be discussed at this point. Judges set bail based on factors such as the severity of the alleged crimes and any potential threat to public safety. Your previous criminal history and community ties can also influence the decision. The court might decide to release you on your own recognizance, which is a promise that you’ll appear for future court dates without having to pay bail.

Evidence-Gathering and the Discovery Phase

Discovery in a San Diego criminal trial is the phase where both the prosecution and defense exchange information and evidence related to your case. This process ensures that you and your attorney are aware of the witnesses, documents, physical evidence, and other materials that may be presented at trial.

Discovery allows for the preparation of a thorough defense by knowing what evidence could be used against you. It can involve requests for police reports, witness statements, forensic test results (like DNA or fingerprints), and expert testimony evaluations. Discovery helps prevent surprises at trial because each side knows in advance what to expect from the other’s case.

Pre-Trial Motions and Hearings

Pre-trial motions and hearings in San Diego are conducted at this point and shape the upcoming trial. They allow your defense team to challenge various aspects of the charges, such as seeking suppression of evidence that may have been unlawfully obtained or resolving procedural disputes. 

The outcome of these motions can significantly affect the timeline and underlying strategy for the trial. A successful motion could lead to a dismissal or more favorable plea bargain if key evidence is excluded.

Jury Selection

In San Diego, jury selection begins with a pool of potential jurors from the community. The process is officially known as voir dire, which involves questioning each person to identify any biases or inability to judge your case fairly.

Both the defense and prosecution participate actively during voir dire. They can use peremptory challenges to reject potential jurors without stating a reason (there is a limited number allowed) or “cause” challenges where reasons must be provided on why they believe a juror should not serve. The goal is to assemble an impartial jury to hear the case.

Criminal Trial

A criminal trial in San Diego consists of several parts. First, both sides present their opening statements, in which the defense and prosecutor outline the evidence that will be offered going forward.

Following the opening statements, witnesses testify, and evidence is presented, first by the prosecutor and then by the defense team. Each witness is subject to cross-examination by opposing counsel, thus allowing for an opportunity to challenge their credibility and poke holes in their testimonies.

After all evidence has been presented and examined, closing arguments are delivered. The prosecution summarizes their case and why you should be found guilty, whereas your lawyer argues as to why you should be acquitted. Facing a criminal trial can be a difficult experience, but you don’t have to do it alone.

Contact a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney For Help Navigating the Trial Process

If you’re currently dealing with a criminal case or expecting to be charged, don’t hesitate to seek legal help.

For more information please contact the San Diego criminal defense attorneys at Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers for a free consultation, give us a call at (619) 357-4977 or visit our convenient location:

Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers – San Diego Criminal Defense Law Firm
255 Broadway, Ste 1740. San Diego, CA. 92101