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How Court Works

I’ve Been Arrested…What Happens Next?

Step One:  Preliminary Hearing

The Commonwealth must make a prima facie case against you (must show the district magistrate that there is enough evidence against you) to go to the Court of Common Pleas (also known as “Big Court”)

Step Two: Formal Arraignment

The Commonwealth officially informs you of the charges you will face at trial.

Step Three:  Pre-Trial Conference

Your trial/plea/hearing date is set.

Step Four:  Trial/Plea/Hearing Date

Your day in court.

Step Five:  Sentencing

If you are not acquitted at trial, you are sentenced after the trial/plea.

Step Six:  Post-Sentencing Motions

If there are illegalities or other issues at trial, you can file post-sentencing motions to ask the court to reconsider its decision

Step Seven:  Direct Appeal

If the post-sentencing motions do not resolve the illegalities or other trial issues, you can appeal the decision to the Pennsylvania Superior or Supreme Courts.

Step Eight: PCRA Petition

In certain cases, you may be eligible for relief under the Post-Conviction Relief Act.

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