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Stages of Criminal Court

Stages of State Court Criminal Proceedings in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania


  • Pennsylvania Citizen is "Defendant" is arrested.

  • Prior to Arrest, the Suspect is usually Interviewed by Police.

  • The Defendant is arrested by an Arrest Warrant for Serious Crimes

  • The Defendant can be notified of criminal charges by mail via a Summons

  • If arrested by Arrest Warrant, the Defendant is taken to the Allegheny County Jail

Preliminary Arraignment

  • Defendant is arraigned by an Allegheny County District Magistrate Judge

  • Bail is set for the Defendant

  • Defendant is notified of the Preliminary Hearing

  • Defendant receives a copy of the Criminal Complaint, list of charges and the Affidavit of probable cause for arrest

Preliminary Hearing

  • Defendant is ordered to be present for the preliminary hearing

  • The District Attorney presents evidence to the guilt of the Defendant

  • The Defense Attorney for the Defendant refutes the Evidence presented by the District Attorney

  • The Preliminary hearing can be waived and argument made for a bail/bond reduction

  • The case is held over for trial if the District Magistrate Judge is convinced that the District Attorney presented enough evidence for the crimes charged

  • Some or all the charges could be dismissed or reduced with the Defendant ordered to pay a fine

  • The client can be considered for an EDP offer or Phoenix Court Docket

Transfer of Jurisdiction Hearing (For Juveniles charged under Act 33)

  • Defense Attorney files motion to transfer jurisdiction of the criminal matter from adult court to Juvenile Court

  • The District Attorney may file response motion or simply contest the motion at a Transfer/Decertification hearing

  • A Judge determines if the societal interest would be further served if the case were transferred to

    Juvenile Court

Formal Arraignment

  • Defendant receives "criminal information" which contains official list of charges

  • Defense Attorney enters an appearance on behalf of the Defendant as counsel of record

  • The Defendant received subpoena for pre-trial conference

  • The Defendant is permitted to file pre-trial motions

  • Defendant must be present or a Bench Warrant will be issued for arrest

  • Defendant files for discovery on the case

Pre-Trial Conference

  • Defendant must be present or a Bench Warrant will be issued

  • Defense Counsel reviews case with district attorney and selects trial date

  • Defendant receives subpoena for trial date

  • Defendant elects to proceed either jury/non jury or to enter a plea


  • Defendant appears for trial

  • If Defendant does not appear, a bench warrant will be issued

  • If Jury trial selected, Defendant, Defense Counsel and District Attorney Select a Jury

  • If Non-Jury Trial has been selected, Defendant proceeds with non-jury (bench) trial before a judge

  • If a plea has been negotiated, the Defendant will enter the plea before the Trial Judge

  • If pre-trial motions have been filed, the motions will be heard before trial

  • If Defendant is acquitted of all charges, the case is over and the Defendant can file for an expungement


  • If the Defendant is convicted, a sentencing date will be scheduled

  • The Trial Judge may order a pre-sentence report which details the defendant's history

  • Witnesses may speak on behalf of the Defendant

  • Victim Impact statements may be given at the Sentencing hearing

  • If the Defendant is not present, a Bench Warrant is issued

  • Defendant is ordered to start sentence immediately or at a later date

  • Defendant is Advised of Right to Appeal/Appellate Rights

Criminal Appeals

  • Trial-Test Experieence
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  • Attorney Walker In The News
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