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F.A.Q.
Q: What is a parole hearing?
Q: What is a preliminary hearing?
Q: What is an arraignment?
Q: What is the fax number for the Public Affairs Unit?
Q: What is the maximum sentence the defendant can receive in my case?
Q: What will happen if a witness refuses to testify?
Q: Where can I find basic information about a case and future court dates?
Q: Where do I park as a witness in a criminal case?
Q: Where should I go to get legal advice on personal matters?
Q: Who decides what charges to file?
 

Q: What is a parole hearing?
A: A parole hearing is conducted by the California Board of Prison Terms (BPT).  The purpose of a parole hearing is to determine if or when an inmate can be returned to society.  Only inmates sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole are subject to suitability hearings by the BPT.  Some life inmates are sentenced without the possibility of parole.  All prison inmates in California who are not serving life sentences are released on parole after serving the sentence imposed by the court and are supervised by the California Department of Corrections.
 
Q: What is a preliminary hearing?
A: The preliminary hearing, also called a probable cause hearing, is where the judge hears the case to determine if there is enough evidence to hold the defendant to answer to the charge(s) in Superior Court. If the judge finds there is probable cause that the defendant committed the crimes as charged in the complaint, the defendant is “bound over” for trial.  If the judge decides there is not probable cause that the defendant committed the crime, the charge may be dismissed.
 
Q: What is an arraignment?
A: An arraignment is the initial appearance where the defendant enters a plea of “guilty” or “not guilty.”  At arraignment, the defendant is advised of his or her crime and his or her constitutional rights such as a jury or court trial, appointed attorney, presumption of innocence, etc.
 
Q: What is the fax number for the Public Affairs Unit?
A: The fax number for Public Affairs is (714) 347-8689.
 
Q: What is the maximum sentence the defendant can receive in my case?
A: In most cases, the judge has wide discretion to impose a fair sentence for the defendant, up to the maximum available exposure for a defendant's conviction.  The maximum sentence available will depend on the type and number of charges or counts filed by the OCDA.  Most misdemeanor charges carry a maximum jail sentence of either six months or one year, and/or a fine of $1,000.  Most felony charges carry a maximum prison sentence of three years, though serious or violent felonies have a much longer maximum sentence.
 
Q: What will happen if a witness refuses to testify?
A: Unless a witness can exercise a certain privilege, the witness will be compelled by the court to testify. If a witness refuses the court’s order to testify, the court can impose sanctions on the witness including fines and/or custody time.
 
Q: Where can I find basic information about a case and future court dates?
A: First check the DA website under the heading “Cases in the News”. If you are a member of the media and you cannot find the case on the website you can contact Farrah Emami at (714) 347-8405. If you are not a member of the media you should call (714) 834-3600.
 
Q: Where do I park as a witness in a criminal case?
A: See the Maps and Directions on this site for directions to the courthouses.  Free parking is accessible at most courthouses.  At the Central Justice Center and the Lamoreaux Juvenile Justice Center, the Victim/Witness Assistance Program Office will validate your parking.
 
Q: Where should I go to get legal advice on personal matters?
A: You should contact a private attorney.  If you do not have an attorney, you can call the Lawyer Referral Service which is operated by the Orange County Bar Association at (949) 440-6700.
 
Q: Who decides what charges to file?
A: Upon receiving the completed police reports, the case is reviewed by a deputy district attorney.  The deputy district attorney will thoroughly review the reports and the defendant’s criminal or traffic record and decide what, if any, charges may be filed against the defendant. 
 
 


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