Merced County California

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Definitions
Arraignment & Bail
The judge informs you of the charges against you. If you cannot afford a private attorney, the judge will appoint the Public Defender’s Office to represent you.

At arraignment, the judge is also likely to review your bail amount. If you are in custody, the judge may reduce your bail, release you on the pre-trial ankle monitor, or release you on your own recognizance.

Attorney Interview
Before your first pre-preliminary hearing date, you should contact our office to schedule a time to meet with your assigned attorney to discuss your case.

Pre-Preliminary Hearing
Your attorney will discuss your case with the District Attorney (DA) and obtain an offer. Often you will have more than one court date for pre-preliminary hearing while your attorney negotiates with the DA.

Preliminary Hearing
The District Attorney must present evidence to the judge to establish that there is probable cause to believe the charges against you. If the judge finds probable cause, then you will be held to answer. (Probable cause is a much lower standard than “beyond a reasonable doubt.”)

Unless you enter a time waiver, the preliminary hearing must occur within 10 court days if you are in custody. It must occur within 60 calendar days if you are out of custody.

Superior Court Arraignment
If you are held to answer after the preliminary hearing, you will be re-advised of the charges against you, and a trial date will be set.

Sentencing
After either a guilty or no-contest plea (or after a guilty verdict at trial), the judge will sentence you. Many felony convictions involve time in either the county jail or state prison. If you are sentenced to county jail (also known as local time), you may be eligible to serve your sentence on the electronic monitor or work release program. In addition to time in county jail or state prison, you are also likely to have significant fines and post-conviction supervision by either probation or parole.

Expungement
After the end of your probationary period, you may petition the Court for an expungement so long as you do not have any other open cases and have paid all fines for your case. Not all convictions are eligible for expungement.


Merced County 2222 M Street Merced, CA 9543 Ph. (209) 385-7434 Toll Free (800) 226-6452