Hawaii Legal Process Criminal Defense
The following section is intended to be an overview of what happens when you are charged with a felony matter in Hawaii. It is meant to give you an idea of what to expect during your case.
You have been charged with a crime. In order for the State of Hawaii to prosecute you for this crime they must present evidence that would lead either a judge or a grand jury to believe that there is probable cause that you committed a crime. This does not mean that you are guilty of the crime alleged. It is simply a process that is required by the Hawaii State and United States Constitutions.
Your first appearance in Court is called the arraignment and plea. This hearing is intended to inform you of the charge(s) and for you to enter a plea. At that hearing we, your criminal defense lawyer, will receive a formal copy of the charge(s) against you. A “not guilty” plea will be entered on your behalf. The court will then give us a pre-trial date and a trial date. The Court may also impose conditions of your release. The Court may order that you check in with Maui Intake Service Center and abide by the conditions of “supervised release.” The Court may also order that you refrain from contacting certain individuals or refrain from going to certain places. The Judge may also order that you refrain from the use of unprescribed drugs, illegal drugs, and/or alcohol. In those cases, the Court will also require that you submit to random drug testing at the request of the Maui Intake Service Center. Your failure to comply with these conditions will result in your arrest.
If you are in custody at the time of the arraignment and plea we will request a bail study. The Court will also set a bail hearing. The bail hearing is to determine whether your bail could be reduced or possibly eliminated.
After the arraignment we, your criminal defense lawyer, will request that discovery be provided. Discovery usually comprises police reports and documentation related to the investigation of your criminal case. Under certain circumstances we will also request a grand jury transcript or a preliminary hearing transcript.
After we receive and review the discovery we begin planning for your case. We will conduct any necessary investigation. We will also prepare all appropriate pre-trial motions. We prepare all cases for trial regardless of whether the case proceeds to trial. This method of preparation, while time consuming, provides the best criminal defense and information for the client.
Your pre-trial conference is an informal hearing before the Court. Unless you are excused, you must be present at this hearing. There are two purposes of the pretrial conference. The first is determine the status of any plea negotiations. The second is to determine whether additional time is necessary for preparation of trial. We, your criminal defense team, will send you a letter regarding the date and time of your pretrial conference. These conferences are often postponed. You will be notified if your hearing is postponed.
The trial is set if we are unable to resolve your case through plea negotiations. You have a constitutional right to a trial. At a trial the State of Hawaii is required to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If they are unable to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt you will be found not guilty of the charge(s) against you.
There are two types of trials. One is a trial by a judge that is commonly referred to as a “bench trial.” At this type of trial the judge would determine whether the State of Hawaii has proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt. The other type of trial is a jury trial. In a jury trial twelve members of the community are chosen to serve as jurors. After they hear the evidence all twelve of the jurors must agree that the State of Hawaii has proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt in order for you to be found “guilty.” All twelve must agree that the State has not proven its case against you in order to find you “not guilty.” You are not entitled to a jury trial in all cases. The trial date is often postponed. You will be notified when the trial date is postponed.
Should you enter a plea of “no contest” or “guilty” to some of the criminal charges or amended criminal charges or if you are found guilty after your trial your case will be set for sentencing. Prior to the sentencing you will be required to proceed to the Adult Client Services to schedule an appointment to meet with a probation officer. That officer will write a pre-sentence report and deliver it to the judge prior to sentencing. This report provides information regarding your history and the circumstances of your case. It helps the judge to impose a fair and just sentence. You will be asked to fill out a questionnaire. Please fill it out and contact our office. We, your criminal defense team, will assist you in answering questions you do not understand. We will also type your answers and submit this questionnaire to the probation officer. Finally, your criminal defense lawyer will be present when the probation officer interviews you.