Adult Criminal Justice System

Preliminary Arraignment
- a proceeding before a Magisterial District Justice following the arrest of an accused for the purpose of setting bail.

Preliminary Hearing - a proceeding before a Magisterial District Justice to determine whether there is probable cause to formally accuse a person of a crime.  This hearing is not a determination of guilt or innocence but of whether there is a reasonable basis for believing that a crime has been committed and for thinking that the defendant committed it.  If such finding is supported by evidence, the case is sent forward to the trial courts.

Arraignment - a proceeding in the Court of Common Pleas (trial court) whereby the accused is informed of the charges against him and enters a plea to those charges.  At this initial appearance before the trial court it is common for defendants to enter not guilty pleas.

Call of the Criminal List - the last proceeding in the Court of Common Pleas prior to trial whereby a defendant facing criminal charges indicates his readiness for trial or enters guilty pleas.  Continuances may also be requested at this stage.

Defendant - a person who has been formally charged with committing a crime.

Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI) - a report prepared by a probation officer that the judge may use in determining an appropriate sentence for a person who pleads guilty or is found guilty of a crime.  The report includes information regarding the defendant’s background, such as family life, education, employment, and criminal history.

Sentencing - a Court’s punishment to the defendant with respect to the consequences of having committed a crime. 
© 2008 Perry County Victim Witness Program : : PCVWP
This project was supported by the Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice. 
Points of view are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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