The Legal Process in Pennsylvania

Each state has specific tenets law officers follow to arrest a person in connection with a legal offense. Officers must make quick decisions for each circumstance. However, the Pennsylvania criminal system has some general procedures. Here is a summary of the legal process in Pennsylvania.


Officers in Wyoming County and throughout Pennsylvania need probable cause to arrest someone. They often need arrest warrants issued by a judge, especially if the arrest will occur inside a residence. However, there are exceptions to the warrant requirement, including when a criminal act is committed in front of an officer.

Release From Jail

If a defendant is charged with a relatively minor criminal offense and officers feel this person poses a low risk, they may choose to release this person. However, those charged with serious offenses, people likely to flee, and those who pose an ongoing public risk may not find getting out of jail so easy.

These defendants will have a preliminary arraignment before a judge. These hearings have multiple outcomes based on each case. In some circumstances, judges may grant bail. When bail is set, defendants will have a chance to obtain legal counsel and arrange for Wyoming County bail bonds.


Those defendants whose cases are going to trial must enter pleas. If a defendant chooses to plead “not guilty,” their case stays open, and they can try to work out a plea deal with the prosecutor. If a deal cannot be agreed upon, in Pennsylvania the defendant can then choose to take the case to trial.

Defendants have a right to a jury trial when the maximum penalty of their offense is longer than six months. Less serious offenses are heard and decided by judges. If defendants are found guilty, the judge decides the sentence.

Understanding the Process

Knowing what to expect in the event of being arrested in Pennsylvania goes a long way to removing some of the fear about what may happen. Understanding the process helps defendants take helpful actions at each stage. Knowing what to do in this or any situation can lead to better outcomes.