The Steps Of A Court Case


District Attorney's OfficeAllison Haley, District Attorney

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The Steps of A Court Case

The police may arrest the suspect and hold that person in jail until they can post bail. You can also request that the police officer obtain an Emergency Protective Order (E.P.O.) from the on-call Judge. This order would be effective immediately and would order your abuser not to contact or abuse you. These orders are temporary and you should follow-up by obtaining a permanent restraining order keeping the abuser away from you. However, a court order alone won't keep you safe. Do all that you can to make yourself and your family safe. Don't hesitate to call the police and/or the District Attorney's Office if your abuser violates this order.

If the prosecutor decides to file charges, the defendant will be brought to court to hear the charges. They may plead guilty then. If the defendant pleads not guilty, a trial date will be set by the judge. The defendant may be released from jail on their own recognizance or on bail or may be held in jail until trial. The prosecutor can also request, and have the court impose, conditions of release, including, for example, an order requiring the defendant to have no contact with you. If the defendant violates that order the prosecutor can have the defendant's release revoked and have that person jailed once again. Remember call the police and/or the District Attorney's Office if the defendant violates this order.

Municipal or Superior Court
You will receive a subpoena and you must appear in court at the time it states. Call the number on the subpoena if you have any questions. Failure to appear may result in your arrest. The defendant may plead guilty at this time also, and you will not have to testify.

Trial Court
A trial or at the preliminary hearing, all witnesses and the defendant will appear. The defendant may plead guilty at the time for the preliminary hearing or even at the time of trial. A Victim Counselor will meet you at court and will explain the procedures for you and sit with you in the courtroom. Very few cases go to trial.

The judge will determine the sentence, but you have the right to come to court to tell the judge at that hearing your feelings regarding what sentence should be imposed. You may also submit a letter to or speak with the probation officer at the Napa County Probation Department who is writing the sentencing report, so that they may consider your feelings. Contact that Probation Officer at 253-4431.