Duties of Trial Attorneys
Trial Attorney Procedures
- Assist police in filing appropriate criminal charges
- Assume control of the criminal cases once they are forwarded to the Court of Common Pleas
- Conduct Preliminary Hearings
- Prepare cases for preliminary hearings at local district justice offices
- Review police investigations
Once a case is sent to the Court of Common Pleas, an attorney will conduct formal arraignment in the courthouse. The assistant district attorney assigned to the case then prepares all necessary documents involved in criminal litigation. The attorney, with the assistance of support staff, creates a file for each case, which includes criminal history information, sentencing guideline forms, and police reports.
Charging documents, known as criminal information, are prepared for each case. This information is distributed to counsel for the defendant through the process of discovery. A pretrial conference is then scheduled, at which time a defendant will indicate to the court whether he will plead guilty to the charges or proceed to trial. A case that proceeds to trial is placed on the trial ready list for the following criminal court term. The attorney then sends subpoenas to witnesses to appear at the date and time of the scheduled trial.