What happens next in a criminal case?

When a Complaint (criminal charging document) is issued by the County Attorney's Office and signed by a judge, the defendant is scheduled for a first appearance in Court. A judge will then insure that an attorney represents the defendant. The judge also decides whether the defendant should be required to post bail or be released without bail. If the defendant doesn't post bail the defendant remains in jail. If requested, an Omnibus (pretrial) Hearing is scheduled. At the Omnibus Hearing, a judge decides what evidence may be used and whether there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial. Testimony from victims and witnesses is usually not necessary at the Omnibus Hearing. After the judge decides the Omnibus Hearing issues, the trial is scheduled. The trial usually is scheduled within six to eight weeks unless the defendant asks for or agrees to a trial at a later date.

The law requires counties to offer some offenders the option to participate in a diversion program rather than continuing through the court system. Certain first time property offenders may be eligible for the Rice County Adult Criminal Diversion Program. The goals of diversion include creating an incentive for offenders to change their behavior, ensuring full and prompt payment of restitution to crime victims, holding offenders accountable to society, and reducing costs associated with the criminal justice system.