Steps of Alabama’s criminal legal process

On Behalf of | Jan 7, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

When a person is arrested for a crime in Alabama it can be an intimidating experience. There are many intricacies of the criminal justice process that a regular person doesn’t know about or understand. The following is a brief overview of the Alabama criminal process to help a person understand the possible stages they or a loved one are facing.

Arrest and booking

The first phase of the Alabama criminal legal process is often an arrest and booking. There is typically enough evidence that a person is arrested and booked into jail. Their mugshot and fingerprints are taken as well.


The arraignment is where a defendant makes their first court appearance. They will be told what charges they are facing and if bail has been set. If a person is facing felony charges they will be told of their right to request a preliminary hearing.

Preliminary hearing

A defendant facing felony charges has the right to request a preliminary hearing. The prosecution will present the evidence they have against the defendant and a judge will determine if that evidence is sufficient for the defendant to be indicted on felony charges.

Grand jury indictment

If probable cause if determined in the preliminary hearing a grand jury will be convened to determine if there is sufficient evidence to indict a defendant on the proposed charges against them.


Many times, a plea bargain is worked out before a trial is set to begin. Otherwise, a defendant’s case may go to trial.


If a case goes to trial and a guilty verdict is returned or a plea bargain is entered into, a judge will then determine the sentence the defendant receives. This can include jail time, probation, and fines.


A defendant who receives a misdemeanor or felony conviction has the legal right to appeal the verdict.