One of the major downsides to the judicial system is how long it takes. The amount of time that passes between an initial arrest and the defendant finally getting their day in court is often incredibly long.
The first time you’ll see the inside of a courtroom following an arrest is within 48 business hours of your arrest. This particular court appointment is called an arraignment. The purpose of the arraignment is to formally hear the charges you’re facing and for the judge to determine if they’ll grant bail and, if they’re going to grant bail, how much is an appropriate amount.
Some minor charges don’t require an immediate arraignment.
In California, if you’re facing misdemeanor charges, everybody works hard to get you through the court process as quickly as possible. According to state law, anyone facing misdemeanor charges and who is being held in custody is entitled to have a formal trial within 30 days of their arraignment or the date they entered an official plea. If you made bail and aren’t being held in custody, the court has 45 days to arrange your trial.
Another law California has is that the trial must start within ten days of the trial date getting formally set.
Cases involving felony charges are a bit different.
The first difference is that you don’t go from the arraignment to the trial. First, you’ll go through a pre-hearing. The purpose of the pre-hearing is for the prosecution to convince the judge that they do, in fact, have enough evidence supporting the charges to indicate that there’s a chance they could sway the jury. This preliminary hearing must take place within ten business days of your arraignment.
If the judge approves the prosecution’s case, the prosecutor has just 15 days to file “information,” which is the term used to describe the filing of a formal felony complaint against you.
The exact amount of time it takes after this for the case to be heard by a jury depends on the complexity of the case and the court’s schedule.