Shawn Bible Law Main: (706) 375-2145
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Shawn Bible - Lawyer in NW Georgia

Timeline of a Criminal Case

Below is a timeline of a criminal case.  This timeline can vary based on which court your case is in and reflects criminal cases in the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Superior Court.  



Timeline of a Criminal Case


Investigation: During the investigation of a crime, the police review the facts, interview witnesses and gather evidence against suspect(s).  When the police think they have enough evidence, they can ask a judge to sign an arrest warrant for a suspect.

Arrest:  If you are arrested for allegedly breaking the law, the case is taken before a magistrate judge who may set bond for appearance in court.  The defendant is usually “booked” at the local jail before he can be released on bond.  The police may also try to question a defendant before release.

Interrogation by police after arrest: If questioned while under arrest a person has a right to remain silent.  Any statement you make will be used against you in court.  You have a right to have an attorney present to advise you of your rights during any questioning.  Police are required to advise you of your rights prior to interrogating you while under arrest.  If you are a suspect in a criminal case or have been arrested never speak to a police officer without an attorney present.

How do I have a bond set?  After being arrested, a suspect will go before a magistrate judge, who will either set bail or decline to set any bail so that the suspect must remain in jail until the trial of their case.  Locally bond is usually set in one of three ways.  For some offenses such as DUI, Possession of Marijuana and various traffic offenses and misdemeanors the bond may be set automatically.  Defendant’s charged with felonies will have to wait to have a ‘first appearance” in front of a Magistrate Judge.  These first appearances are usually done daily by video conference.  For some serious felony offenses, a hearing must be in held in Superior Court before a bond can be set.

What happens if I don’t have a bond set?

A Magistrate Judge is not allowed by law to set bonds for some serious felonies.  These are:

1. Murder
2. Treason
3. Rape
4. Aggravated Sodomy
5. Armed Robbery
6. Aircraft and Motor Vehicle Hijacking
7. Aggravated Child Molestation
8. Schedule I Narcotic
9. Schedule II Narcotic Manufacturing, Distributing, Delivering, Dispensing,
Administering, or Selling
10. Trafficking Cocaine or Marijuana
11. Kidnapping
12. Arson
13. Aggravated Assault 2nd Offense
14. Burglary 2nd Offense
15. Aggravated Stalking

If you are arrested of one of the above charges your bond must be set by a Superior Court Judge.  This is done      by the Judge signing an agreed bond order (a bond agreed to by the DA) or by scheduling a bond hearing.


What is Bail?  Bail is money or real property that is deposited with the court to ensure that the person arrested will return to court. If the Defendant returns to court as required, the bail will be returned at the end of the case. However, if the defendant does not appear in court or violates bail conditions, the bail can be forfeited to the court.

What are Bail Bond Companies?  Bail Bond companies are in the business of posting bail for defendants.  Fees charged by bail bond companies are usually based on a percentage of the bond.

What is a Property Bond?  Property can be used instead of cash to make bond.  A bondsman is not needed if you use property.  However, the property must be in Georgia. 

Preliminary Hearing: In Georgia, a magistrate judge can hold a preliminary hearing if the defendant is in jail or has bond conditions.  The prosecution must then prove that there is enough evidence supporting the charges against the defendant so that the case can be bound over for trial.  In most cases the Judge will bound the case over for trial.  So why ask for a preliminary hearing?  Most attorneys use preliminary hearings as a way to gather information about the case and get a preview of the State’s case.

Arraignment: The accused first appears before the trial judge at an arraignment.  This arraignment usually takes place a few months after arrest.  At this proceeding, the judge informs the accused of the criminal charges against them and ask the defendant if they wish to plead guilty or not guilty.  Typically, arraignments can be waived if the defendant’s attorney files a waiver of arraignment.  Usually, our office will ask clients to sign a waiver and we will enter a not guilty plea so the client will not appear in court for arraignment

Discovery:  After Arraignment our office will file Discovery Motions.  The District Attorney will then give us copies of all the evidence in their possession.

Plea Bargaining: Sometimes a defendant and the prosecution can negotiate an agreement that resolves a criminal case before trial.

Trial and Sentencing: At trial, the attorney for the state and the defense attorney will give opening and closing statements, introduce evidence and question witnesses.  If found guilty, the court will impose a sentence, which may include time incarcerated, fines and fees, court costs, restitution to victims and probation for a set period of time.

What is an appeal?  A defendant who is found guilty of some or all charges is entitled to an appeal to the Court of Appeals.  An appeal is a request that a higher court review the decisions of a lower court.  Grounds for an appeal may include insufficient evidence, violation of Constitutional rights or mistakes made by the judge in the case.