Criminal Charges and Court Process

With criminal charges pending, the process can be daunting.  However, everyone facing criminal charges must go through a similar legal process in court. At the beginning, all people accused of a crime have a right to be notified of the charges they are facing. This is called an arraignment. The legal process may end with a trial to determine guilt or innocence. There are many important steps between these events.  You have the right to have an attorney present at all of these hearings. Azure Law Office is here to answer your questions and guide you through the criminal process.

Most criminal courts use the same basic process. First Appearance, Arraignment, Pre-Trial Hearing, Omnibus Hearing, Motions and Trial are some of the terms you may hear. While some courts give different names to similar hearings – these are the typical court appearances occuring in a criminal case.

If held in custody here in Benton or Franklin County there will be a First Appearance at which point the judge will make a determination of probable cause for the charges. The prosecution has 72 hours in order to file criminal charges against you – this does not include weekends or holidays.  If not formally charged in that time period the person is released.  This does not mean the charges are dismissed – just that they will no longer be held in custody.

Arraignment is the next hearing in the process and is where a defendant is advised of rights and notified of the charges.  The Court will also address conditions of release.  These conditions are very important – if conditions of release are violated, the release can be revoked and a person may sit in jail awaiting trial.

Omnibus is a hearing which is held and satisfied if a person has decided to proceed forward to trial. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys have ongoing discovery obligations and will let the court know if those obligations have been met or if there are outstanding issues to be resolved prior to trial.

It is very important to be present for all hearings unless your attorney specifically tells you otherwise. Be at least fifteen minutes early for your hearing and dress appropriately for your appearance – business casual at the least.


If you are in need of help, contact our Kennewick, WA office at 509.491.3941.