After an incident is reported to the police, patrol officers or
detectives from the police department will investigate whether a
crime has been committed, then collect evidence and identify
As a victim you may be required to:
It may be that the case is unfounded.
This means that there is not enough evidence to prove in court that
a crime has been committed, therefore, the case will not continue.
If the case is going to continue, you
will want to ask the investigating police agency to keep you
informed of all steps in the process. The criminal process starts
when an arrest is made.
The Initial Appearance/Bail Hearing
of the defendant is held in either Municipal Court or a Justice of
the Peace Court. The purpose is to file charges and to set bail for
This hearing will be held within 24
hours of arrest, if it is not a weekend. The defendant has a
constitutional right to reasonable bail for most offenses. The
defendant will be held in custody until bail is posted. As long as
the defendant has the ability to make bail, s/he can be released.
The purpose of bail is to insure that the defendant will appear for
his/her scheduled court hearings. This hearing is open
to the public.
There may also be conditions of
release imposed on the defendant at this hearing such as mandatory
treatment, curfew or to have no contact with the victim. If the
defendant violates the conditions of bail, s/he may be charged with
a new crime such as breach of release/non compliance with bail
conditions. This hearing is open to the public.
The Attorney General's Intake is a
screening process to see if there is enough evidence to file charges
in Superior Court. This meeting includes the police, prosecutor
and/or a paralegal. (Case facts and evidence will be considered.) This
meeting is not open to the public.
The result of the meeting could be:
The purpose of a preliminary hearing
is to determine if there is sufficient evidence to continue
prosecution. It is held either in Municipal Court or the Court of
Common Pleas. If the defendant wishes to waive the hearing, (gives
up the right to this hearing), it is not held and the charges go on
to Superior Court. If the defendant wishes to have a hearing,
usually the only witness who testifies is the investigating police
officer. However, if you are subpoenaed to testify, you must appear
and should immediately call the Attorney General's Victim/Witness
Program and the investigating officer. This hearing is
open to the public.
The Court can decide to: