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General Information for People Charged with Crimes


When someone is charged with a crime and at risk of jail time, that person has several rights in the criminal justice system. The Office of Public Defense Services (OPDS) has provided the following summary of the rights a defendant has in the system for the purposes of legal education only. OPDS cannot give legal advice and all situations are different. If you have questions, please contact an attorney.

Right to Counsel

You have the right to have an attorney represent you. If you can't afford to hire an attorney, the court will appoint a lawyer to represent you. To qualify for appointed counsel, you may need to complete a financial affidavit. BE HONEST AND COMPLETE WHEN YOU FILL OUT THE FINANCIAL AFFIDAVIT. You will be signing "under penalty of perjury," which means it is a crime to lie.

Stages of a Criminal Case

These stages vary case by case and county by county, this is a general list to give you an idea of the criminal process

  1. Fill out the financial affidavit
  2. Initial appearance and Arraignment
  3. Meeting with Attorney / Discovery Review / Case Planning / Investigation
  4. Settlement Negotiations
  5. Case Resolution / Trial / Sentencing
  6. Post Resolution Issues