Overview of the Criminal Justice Process

A misdemeanor is a crime punishable by 12 months or less in jail. A felony is a crime punishable by one year or more in prison. 

A warrant must be issued by a judge for the accused to be arrested. 

An arrest is made when a police officer takes someone into custody believed to have committed a crime.

After an arrest, the accused may be offered an opportunity to make bail (also called bond). By paying the amount specified by a judge, the accused is released from jail to await further legal proceedings. 

The citation and all related documents are bound over to the Fulton County Solicitor-General’s Office for review and investigation. If there is sufficient cause to file charges, a formal Accusation is filed with the court and a probable cause hearing will be held. If you are a victim or witness to a crime, you may receive a subpoena to testify at the probable cause hearing. (In some cases, the accused may be referred to diversion and given the opportunity to complete pre-trial intervention). 

Following a probable cause hearing, an arraignment is scheduled in which the defendant answers the charges against him or her. If the defendant pleads “Not Guilty,” the case will be set for trial. If the defendant pleads “Guilty,” he or she may be sentenced that day. Victims will receive notification by mail of the date of arraignment, however, it is not necessary for victims to be present. Please contact the Assistant Solicitor-General prior to the date of the arraignment to discuss any concerns you may have regarding restitution for stolen property, property damage, medical expenses or other financial loss. 

In many cases, the attorneys may raise questions of law that must be decided by the court before the trial can proceed. The judge will conduct the necessary hearings and decide on the legal questions presented.

When a witness is required to testify in court, he or she will be notified by subpoena. A subpoena is a legal notification issued by the clerk of the court and will specify the date, time and place of the hearing. Often, there is no way of knowing which defendants will plead guilty, nor the order in which the judge will call the cases. Therefore, your subpoena will include a notice to contact the Assistant Solicitor-General regarding oncall status. You must respond to the prosecutor listed on the subpoena and provide contact information where you can be reached at all times during the week of trial. “Oncall” status is for your convenience. 

The purpose of the trial is to determine the facts in the case. In a criminal trial, the Solicitor-General’s Office represents the State of Georgia and the Defense Attorney represents the accused. The prosecution presents evidence to the judge and jury first. When you are called into the courtroom, you will be sworn as a witness, and the Assistant Solicitor-General will ask you questions about the case. When the prosecutor concludes questioning, the defense will then have an opportunity to ask questions. The jury decides whether there is enough evidence to convict the defendant. Their final decision is called the verdict. 




Close Search Window