Criminal Process: What Happens After an Orange County Arrest?

If you have been arrested in Orange County, California, you’re probably confused and scared and these are natural responses. Many questions are going through your mind, including:

  • Do I need a bail bond?
  • Do I have the right to remain silent?
  • Am I going to jail?
  • What is an arraignment?
  • Where is the courthouse?
  • What is going to happen to me?

Since arrests can occur in a broad range of different situations, it is important that you empower yourself with an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney. It is difficult to predict what might happen if you do not have experience.


Criminal Arrest Process in Orange County

Your criminal case may not always follow the same steps exactly, but you will have contact with police, including local police departments, the California Highway Patrol or the Orange County Sheriff. You should be read your Miranda Rights if you are arrested. The police will have two options after this point: Releasing you with a promise to appear at a later date or taking you to jail for booking.

If you are taken into custody, you may become a guest at the intake release center located in Santa Ana or a local jail in Huntington Beach, Newport Beach or Irvine. If you are released on your recognizance you will be able to go home and you may also be able to return home if you post bail. Bail refers to the money that you will have to pay to the courts in order to be officially released from jail pending your trial. The bail amount is at the judge’s discretion.


Criminal Arraignment Process for Orange County

One of the Orange County courts will be home to your arraignment. The judge will at this point read the charges filed against you and may adjust your bail amount. You can plead no contest, not guilty or guilty. You will have the option to hire an attorney, represent yourself or request a public defender if you plead not guilty.


What Are the Administrative Stages of Your Case?

What happens next will depend on whether or not you’ve been accused of a misdemeanor, an infraction or a felony. Misdemeanor cases are less serious crimes but a guilty plea or conviction can still have significant consequences for your freedom, educational opportunities and your employment choices in the future.

A misdemeanor may also affect your immigration status if you are a non-citizen. Some of the most common misdemeanors in California include petty theft, resisting arrest, minor drug possession, certain traffic offenses, DUI, domestic violence and assault.



An infraction is a minor offense such as wildlife, state park recreation, boating, traffic or having an open container in Huntington Beach. You’ll receive a citation requesting that you appear in court. You can’t be sentenced to jail as the maximum punishment is $250. You may still want to talk with a lawyer even regarding an infraction, because a traffic ticket can impact your insurance rates and your driving record. Fighting it may be the best option for you.


Felony Cases In Orange County

The most serious cases are categorized as felonies. In Orange County these can include murder, robbery, possession of illegal drugs or rape. The next step in your felony case is a pre-trial conference in which your Orange County criminal defense attorney and the prosecutor meet in judge’s chambers to walk through your case and may even enter into a plea bargain.

Pre-trial gives you an opportunity to learn about information from the prosecution and to explore that evidence. From that point, your case proceeds to a preliminary hearing where the evidence is heard and whether the judge determines there’s probably cause to believe that you committed the offense. If you go to trial, the prosecution must illustrate that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

More On The California Court Criminal Process

The criminal justice system in California can be extremely complex and fraught with many procedures and rules that may not be easily understood by someone who’s been accused of a crime. This is just one reason why retaining an Orange County criminal defense attorney is essential.

A knowledgeable lawyer who understands the codes and the rules of the court can allow you to protect your interests and arrive at a just and reasonable outcome. You need to choose a qualified Orange County criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An experienced criminal defender will be able to evaluate your situation and develop a comprehensive defense strategy for your best interests.

The two primary types of crimes accused throughout California include misdemeanors and felonies. You may be eligible to retain an Orange County criminal defense attorney at any stage of your case, whether it is during the investigation or the night before your arraignment. In either situation, you need a qualified criminal defender in Orange County to assist you with your next step.
Pre-arrest investigations

Pre-arrest investigations are accomplished after a defendant has received communication from a law enforcement agency, but charges have not yet been filed or the defendant has yet to be arrested. This is the best opportunity to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to take the helm and defend your interests in the case. Your lawyer can attempt to prevent filing of charges, assist with surrender and avoid arrest, reduce charges, or switch allegations to an informal resolution instead.

If you are arrested, police must have probable cause to arrest you for a felony, and misdemeanor arrest can be made for crimes that occur while in the presence of the arresting individual or with a warrant. Police are not required to read Miranda warnings to everyone who is arrested, and this common misconception lends a lot of people in a state of confusion. Failing to read your Miranda warning does not necessarily make the arrest illegal, but can suppress certain confessions or statement. You should always consult with an experience Orange County criminal defense attorney.

Booking and Criminal Arrest Process

When a suspect is booked, the following aspects occur:
– The accused person is moved to a police station.
– The accused person is questioned
– They’re legally searched
– They are fingerprinted/photographed.
– Most misdemeanor and all felony defendants will be required to go the station for booking. Having an attorney at this stage will benefit that individual, and that includes interrogation could be avoided.

Post-arrest investigations

When the prosecutor decides to file charges or even beforehand, an investigation may be opened. Your lawyer might be able to request that an official report be released at this stage.

Charges Filed

The following individuals are eligible to file charges in California:
– The district attorney can file charges against you if they believe there is enough evidence to convict you.
– A city attorney may also handle misdemeanor cases and may determine if there is enough evidence to convict a suspect.
– In juvenile situations, the probation department serves an instrumental role in determining whether or not to charge the defendant.
The following individuals cannot file charges: police officers and victims.

Filing a Complaint

If a prosecuting attorney determines to file a case, the criminal complaint document is filed with the court to indicate that charges are official. At the arraignment and first appearance, you can expect that you will almost never be arraigned within 24 hours of your arrest. The police are allowed to hold a suspect up to 72 hours following the arrest.

If you are arrested over the course of the weekend, you can expect to be held for one more day. You may be eligible to find out your arraignment by contacting the arresting agency or the booking information line at the jail. At the arraignment hearing, the defendant will have their rights read to them as well as the charges against them and this is the time when bail is set.