What Happens When Someone is Arrested for a Felony
There are two types levels of crime that may be charged in a criminal case: misdemeanor and felony. In this blog, I will discuss what happens when someone is facing felony charges in a criminal court.
There are hundreds of felony crimes in the California Penal Code and almost all criminal conduct can rise to the level of a felony, depending on the circumstances of a case. When you or someone you love is facing criminal charges, always seek the counsel of a criminal defense attorney prior to taking any type of action.
When someone is arrested for a felony, they will be taken to a police station, booked and held there in police custody until the first court date which is generally within 48 hours. The police will set bail for that person, depending on the nature of the crime.
The Defendant and his family then have the option of posting bail and getting the person released or waiting until the first court date to either lower the bail or get the person released without the need for bail. There are pros and cons for doing both and I discuss the concept of bail in detail in a previous blog that can be found here.
The First Court Date
At the first court date, the Defendant will be given formal notice of the charges against him and his attorney will be given the first set of evidence that will be used by the prosecution. Most people will plead not guilty and set the next court date.
After that, the judge will take on other matters that may come up in a case such as bail and issuing protective orders in domestic violence cases. This is a very important hearing and it is crucial to come to the first court date with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
The Preliminary Hearing
The preliminary hearing is usually the first time in a criminal case where the prosecution puts up evidence in court. This is a very important hearing as it will usually give an experienced criminal defense attorney insight into how the prosecution will proceed with the case. A more detailed account of what happens at a preliminary hearing can be found here.
After the preliminary hearing, if the court finds there is sufficient evidence to proceed with trial, the Defendant is arraigned again and then the case is scheduled for a pretrial hearing. There may be numerous pretrial hearings on a case, depending on the complexity of the case.
The pretrial hearing is when a criminal defense attorney would file any legal motions, such as a motion to dismiss or suppress evidence, while he prepares to take the case to trial. From the onset of the proceedings however, an experienced criminal defense attorney will also try to negotiate a favorable outcome for his client in a criminal case.
Trials in felony cases are usually held before a jury and may vary in length and complexity. Most felony cases will never go to trial but a good criminal defense attorney will still prepare all his cases for trial because that will lead to better outcomes for clients that do not wish to take the risk of trial.
No amount of legal research or blog reading will replace a consultation with a criminal defense attorney. If you or someone you love is charged with a felony I implore you to sit down and talk to a criminal lawyer in your area. Most criminal lawyers offer free consultations and are available on short notice. No matter what stage a felony case is in, don't make any decisions or take any action before sitting down with a criminal defense attorney.
Vitaly Sigal is the founder and owner of the Sigal Law Group. He can be reached at 818 325-0570 or email him directly.