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.