If you fail to appear for a court date, a warrant
will be issued for your arrest, and when you are
arrested, your bond will be set very high, a bail
bondsman will charge a high premium to write the
bond, and you may be charged with a separate crime
of Failure to Appear and be sued by your bail
bondsman and/or the State. ALWAYS SHOW
UP FOR COURT UNLESS YOUR ATTORNEY TELLS YOU OTHERWISE.
Although every court is different, generally,
court dates are as follows:
· ARRAIGNMENT. The first
court date. The Defendant is read the charge(s)
against him. This setting can be waived with a
Waiver of Arraignment.
· NON-EVIDENTIARY PRETRIAL.
The second court date. The Defendant and the State
file motions and seek rulings from the Court,
typically about the discovery of evidence against
the Defendant or the charge against the Defendant.
· EVIDENTIARY PRETRIAL.
Usually the third court date, or immediately preceding
trial. The Defendant and the State file motions
and seek rulings from the Court, typically with
law enforcement witnesses testifying about the
manner in which evidence against the Defendant
· PLEA. If a plea agreement
is reached, the Defendant waives his rights to
a trial and enters a plea of guilty or no contest,
and the Court orders a Pre-Sentence Investigation
(“PSI”) into the Defendant.
· SENTENCING. Typically
the Judge reviews the PSI, approves the plea bargain
and pronounces the agreed upon sentence of community
supervision or incarceration. In rare cases, however,
the Court may reject the plea bargain, and the
Defendant can withdraw his plea.
· TRIAL. If no plea agreement
is reached, the case is set for a Trial before
the Court or a Jury Trial. The trial setting is
often preceded by a DOCKET CALL
the week before the trial date in which the parties
announce “ready or “not ready”
for trial and the order of cases set to be tried
is established. On the trial date the parties
commence VOIR DIRE (jury selection)
and the GUILT-INNOCENCE PHASE
of the trial begins that day or another day that
week. If the defendant is acquitted, the trial
is over. If the defendant is convicted, the PUNISHMENT
PHASE begins in which the Court or Jury
hears evidence regarding an appropriate punishment
for the defendant and a sentence is pronounced.