Arraignment - A hearing in which the defendant is formally charged and can plead either guilty, not guilty or no contest. In felony cases, an arraignment follows a preliminary hearing.
Bind over - At the time of the preliminary hearing, if the judge finds there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed a crime, the defendant is ordered to stand trial.
Calendar Call - A conference between the attorneys and the defendant before a judge to see if the case can be settled without going to trial. If not, a trial date is set.
Changing the plea - At any phase of the process, the defendant may change his/her plea of not guilty to guilty or no contest and the defendant may be sentenced immediately or at a future date.
Criminal Complaint - A formal charging document, filed by the District Attorney, setting forth the charge(s) and facts of an alleged crime.
Defendant – The person charged with a criminal offense. This is the person alleged to have committed a particular crime.
Deferred Prosecution – A program offered by the DA (see link)
Decline - The office of the District Attorney decides not to issue any criminal charges.
Dismissal - The charge or charges against the defendant are dismissed. No conviction.
District Attorney - Under state law, the prosecuting attorney who represents the state in each county.
Assistant District Attorney - An attorney who acts on the District Attorney's behalf.
Felony - A crime that is punishable by confinement in a state prison for a term exceeding one year.
Information - A charging document that is filed with the Court after the preliminary hearing. This document formally charges the defendant.
Initial Appearance - A defendant's first appearance in court. The court advises the defendant of the charge(s), penalties, rights and sets bond. In felony cases, a date is often set for a preliminary hearing. In misdemeanor cases, the initial appearance is also the arraignment and, often times, the defendant will enter a plea.
Misdemeanor - A crime that is punishable by confinement to a county jail for one year or less and/or a fine.
Motions - Court hearings held to answer legal questions. May be held before, during, or after a trial.
Plea - A person accused admits or denies commission of a crime by pleading guilty (no contest) or not guilty. The accused can be convicted on his/her plea of guilty (no contest).
Preliminary hearing - A hearing to determine if there is probable cause to believe a crime was committed and if the defendant committed it. If probable cause is established, the case will proceed. If not, the case is dismissed. This hearing is held only for felonies.
Pretrial Conference - A conference between attorneys to see if the case can be settled without going to trial.
Probable Cause - A judicial determination that there is sufficient evidence for the case to proceed to trial.
Restitution - An amount of money ordered by the Court to be paid to the victim for property losses or injuries caused by the crime.
Sentencing - A hearing in which the punishment of a defendant is announced. This occurs after a guilty plea or a finding of guilty by a jury or the Court. Victims and witnesses may be present for and address court prior to sentencing.
Subpoena - A legal order which requires a person to appear in Court to testify as a witness. The subpoena lists the date, time, place and proceeding for which a witness must appear.
Trial - A hearing where the prosecution and defense present evidence to establish the defendant's guilt or innocence. The burden is on the prosecution to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the Court finds the defendant guilty, the case proceeds to sentencing. If the defendant is found not guilty, the case is dismissed.