Once an individual has undergone a preliminary court hearing, the judge will then decide whether or not the defendant will appear before a grand jury.
In the event that the accused will appear before a Grand Jury, the process will begin to determine whether or not the defendant is guilty. The function of the grand jury is to define whether or not there is reasonable cause to believe that the accused has committed a crime. Throughout this entire process, no judge, defendant, or defense attorney will be present. This is a period of time when only witnesses are questioned before the jury. From there, the grand jury can result in “no bill”, meaning that there isn’t enough evidence provided to the jury to prove that a crime has been committed, or the case can be returned to lower courts to be tried as a misdemeanor.
However, provided that the judge decides against holding the defendant in front of a Grand Jury, there will be an indictment, in which the accused is formally charged with a felony. If no prior charges have been made at this point, the accused will be arrested.
The next step is a Superior Court arraignment, in which bail is either set or reset, and the Assistant District Attorney can provide a plea to have charges reduced to prevent the need for a trial. If no plea agreement can be reached, the case will go to trial, in which the Assistant District Attorney must prove to the judge and jury that the defendant has committed the crime they are being charged with beyond reasonable doubt.
There are three possible outcomes that can be reached from the trial stage, which include an acquittal, a conviction, or a hung jury. An acquittal is reached in the event that there was not enough evidence to prove that the crime was committed, or there is reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the accused crime. A hung jury is simply the event that the jury cannot reach an agreement, causing a possible retrial. In the event of a conviction being made, or a defendant pleading guilty, the victim can provide the judge with a Victim Impact Statement, in which they write a letter to the judge discussing the crime and its impact. From there, the probation department will contact the defendant during a Presentence Investigation. This investigation will be sent to the judge to aid in the sentencing process. Finally, during the sentencing process, the victim and their family can make final remarks, before a final court decision is reached.