General Criminal Procedure in Pennsylvania

If you are arrested and charged with a crime in Pennsylvania, you will be exposed to the criminal procedure system. The different steps of the criminal procedure involve the arrest, preliminary arraignment, preliminary hearing and trial. To guide you through each step, a Stroudsburg criminal defense attorney is a must.


The first step in the criminal procedure process is an arrest. Police officers make an arrest, and during the arrest, the police officer must read the person being arrested his or her Miranda rights. These rights provide the arrested with what he or she needs to know about the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney and more.

Preliminary Arraignment

The second step in the criminal procedure is the arraignment hearing. During an arraignment, the defendant will be brought before a judge, who will review the defendant’s criminal history. During a preliminary arraignment, the charges against the defendant will be read, and a decision regarding bail will be made. If the defendant is thought to be a flight risk, then bail may be required, or the defendant may be detained while awaiting trial. On the other hand, if the crime is not serious or if the charged does not have a criminal history, then he or she may be “released on own recognizance” (ROR). This means that the person will probably not have to post bail in order to be released while awaiting trial.

Preliminary Hearing

After being charged with a crime, a charged person will attend a preliminary hearing. During a preliminary hearing, the prosecuting side (usually the district attorney or a police officer) will have to present evidence suggesting that the chances that the charged person committed the crime were at least more than 50 percent. If the evidence does not meet this requirement, then the charges will be dropped. If the evidence satisfies the requirement, then the case will then go to a different court for a formal arraignment hearing. During a formal arraignment, the charged must enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty. During this time – or at a pretrial conference – a plea bargain may be worked out.


A trial is one of the most important parts of the criminal procedure, especially when a plea bargain has not already been formulated. During a trial, the prosecution must present evidence proving that the defendant committed the crime of which he or she has been accused “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Beyond a reasonable doubt means that all evidence presented is so conclusive that reasonable doubts about the defendant’s guilt are removed from a jury’s mind, as found in The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania’s Legal Glossary.

During the trial, the defense will have the opportunity to submit evidence to prove the innocence of the person charged. At a trial’s conclusion, the jurors will have to make a unanimous decision about whether or not they believe the defendant is guilty or not guilty, and the foreman will announce the decision in open court, according to Rule 648 – Verdicts, of Pennsylvania Code Chapter 6, Trial Procedures in Court Cases.

Finally, the last step in the criminal procedure process is sentencing. Depending upon a number of factors, sentencing can vary in severity.

Contact a Stroudsburg Criminal Defense Attorney for Legal Help

If you’ve been arrested and charged with a crime in Pennsylvania, you have the right to an attorney. The criminal process is long and can be confusing, but an attorney can help you understand your rights and options and will represent your interests throughout the entire process.

A conviction can be a serious thing in Pennsylvania. At ARM Lawyers, our attorneys will make sure you get the best defense possible. Speak with our attorneys today to start.