What Are the Typical Steps in a Criminal Defense Case?

When you are accused of breaking the law, you may need to complete the criminal defense process. This multi-step process covers everything from your initial arrest to the dismissal, sentencing, or appeal of your case. It can be a complex process to complete a loan, so you may need an attorney on your side throughout.

criminal defense case can be lengthy, with many steps that can take time to complete. However, approaching these steps with knowledge can help you better handle the specifics of your case. Check out the steps below to learn more about what you can expect if you are accused of breaking the law.

Know the Steps in a Criminal Defense Case Beforehand

When you are accused of breaking the law, it is essential to know what to expect in the outcome of your criminal case. Surprises during the criminal case can lead to mistakes, which can lead to longer sentences and worse outcomes. Because of this, it is vital that you take the proper steps through the following process to protect your rights and future.

Arrest and Booking

First, when you are suspected of committing a crime, the police will arrest you through a warrant or when they witness the alleged crime. Once you are arrested, you will be taken to the Indianapolis Police Department or other local precinct for booking. During this process, your fingerprints and other information will be taken, a record of the arrest will be filed, and you may be released on bail according to Rule 2 of the Indiana Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Preliminary Hearing

During the preliminary hearing, the prosecution must present whether they have grounds to press charges against you. They may need evidence of probable cause under Indiana Code 35-33-7 to bring the case forward, which your attorney can argue against. If the judge decides there are grounds for a case, the legal process continues.

Plea Bargaining

Once the case is brought forward, you can plead guilty or not guilty as outlined in Indiana Code 35-35-2-1. In some cases, you may be offered a plea bargain, where you may be able to plead guilty for a reduced sentence or penalties. However, if you plan to fight your case in court with an attorney, you may need to plead not guilty.


During the trial, the prosecution and you, as the defense, have an opportunity to argue whether or not you committed the crimes you are charged with. The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did, under the rules of the Constitution. At the end of your trial, however, the judge will come to a verdict, or if the jury does not have a unanimous ruling, they may declare a mistrial.


If you are found guilty during the trial, your case goes on to sentencing. During the sentencing process, the judge will determine the penalties you will face for the charges you are found guilty of. The sentencing you face will depend on the specifics of the criminal charges, including any criminal record or degree of remorse.


Even if you are found guilty during the trial, that does not mean you are out of options to get your case reduced or dismissed. In some cases, you may be eligible to pursue another review by a higher court. If you believe there was an error in the case or other issues prevented you from getting a fair trial, this higher court may ask for a retrial or may overturn the conviction.