Preliminary Hearing



Arrest Made



Roughly six months

from arrest

Total process to take 180 days or less provided there are no postponements and crime is not deemed heinous.

"Inmate may see P.D. approx. two weeks before trial

accused may present a defense

  • Believability of witnesses extremely important
  • Defendant may be found guilty or not-guilty
  • If guilty, sentencing date to be set; defendant may choose to have pre-sentence investigation which normally takes an additional 8-10 weeks

A person found guilty may be sentenced to any of a number of options, often in combination: fines, restitution, probation, alternative housing, to total confinement.

[All paper work including order for release must first be in inmate's file before actual release of inmate from ACJ to outside, a program, another correctional facility.]

"Paper Date" - inmate does not usually appear at Arraignment

  • signing of subpoena giving Pre-Trial Conference date and judge assignment

  • Determines if enough evidence to prove crime committed and that the accused is the perpetrator; if so, case is held for trial.
  • Court must presume that the witness is telling the truth; defense does not present its evidence.
  • Can result in dismissal of case, reduction of charges, or fine assessed.
  • A motion for bail reduction can be made at this hearing[Inmate will be seen by P.D. just prior to going to Preliminary Hearing]

Accused is brought to Allegheny County Jail

  • Caught committing a crime
  • Arrest warrant issued
  • Probable cause

Takes place in front of magistrate at Municipal Courts Bldg.

  • Bond is set
  • A Behavior Clinic detainer can be lodged. Bond cannot be paid until defendant is seen by the Behavior psychiatrist and cleared. 
    [Opportunity is give to post bond. PD Investigator interviews accused, usually on Intake Pods or after inmate classified]




Criminal Justice Flow Chart



Formal Arraignment



Pre-Trial Conference



Within 3-10 days, Can be postponed.

Within 72 Hours 


"Paper Date" - inmate usually does not appear at Pre-Trial Conf.

  • Signing of subpoena for trial date
  • D.A. and either Public Defender or Court-Appointed Attorney assigned if defendant does not have a private attorney
  • Defendant enters guilty or not-guilty plea
  • Defendant chooses jury trial or non-jury trial
  • Defendant may choose to accept a plea bargain at this time