What criminal defendants can expect in the Superior Courts

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By Matthew Maddox / October 2, 2023

Those accused of breaking the law in Connecticut typically have two options. They can plead guilty to the charges that they face and wait for a judge to sentence them in accordance with state law, or they can plead not guilty and attempt to mount a defense. Those who take their cases to trial in Connecticut will have to attend hearings in the state’s Superior Courts.

The Superior Court in Connecticut is the trial division of the state courts that hears everything from family law cases to civil claims. The criminal courts are one of the four different Superior Courts in Connecticut. What can someone expect during a criminal trial in the Superior Courts?

Criminal trials are a lengthy, complex process

Criminal prosecution in Connecticut usually starts with an arrest. When police officers take someone into state custody, they provide the evidence they have gathered to prosecutors. Connecticut prosecutors are attorneys who work for the state. Their job involves looking at evidence to determine what charges would be appropriate and then presenting that evidence to the courts as necessary.

The prosecutor informs the courts and the defendant of the exact charges they intend to pursue during an arraignment. That hearing typically also involves a judge setting terms for someone’s release pending trial. After an arraignment, a defense attorney can use the right of discovery to access the state’s evidence. The lawyer can also do their own investigation to gather outside evidence that may exonerate their client. Waiting for a trial could take many months depending on the volume of cases in the courts and the complexity of the evidence involved.

The trial itself could last as little as a few hours or weeks depending on the situation. Both sides will have an opportunity to present evidence, question witnesses and make statements to the courts. If someone’s attempts at defense in Superior Court fail and there are actionable issues during the trial, they may take the case to the Appellate Courts for review. The entire process of criminal prosecution in the Superior Court can often take well over a year.

Knowing what to expect after an arrest may help people better prepare for criminal prosecution in Superior Court. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to gain this clarity.