A felony is a very serious crime with the potential punishment being at least one year in prison. A felony is the most serious of crimes, being more serious than misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors. They can range from crimes such as drug crimes, assault and battery, and theft crimes, to more serious felonies such as sex assault and murder. The punishment for various felonies can be as little as a year in prison to as severe as life in prison, or even the death penalty.
If you are charged with a felony, the first thing that will happen is most likely an arrest and a Criminal Complaint being filed. After an initial arrest, the State has 72 hours to file a Complaint and have you appear before a judge. Your initial appearance will usually be within those first 72 hours, and at that appearance you will either be handed a Criminal Complaint, or the State will request additional time to file one. Once a Complaint is filed, a Public Defender may be appointed if you qualify for their services, or the judge will instruct you to hire an attorney if you do not qualify. A preliminary hearing will also be set. If the defendant is in custody, the hearing will be within 15 days. If the defendant is out of custody, the hearing will be set further out.
Felony charges all start out in Justice Court. At the preliminary hearing, the State presents evidence to the judge to show the court there is probable cause to bind the case over to District Court and set the case for trial. If the judge determines there is enough evidence to send the case to District Court to be set for trial, an Information is filed which formally charges the Defendant with the crime. Most cases that go to preliminary hearing get bound over to District Court and set for trial. Once the case is bound over, there is an arraignment where the Defendant can then plead not guilty and the case is set for trial. The Defendant then has a right to a speedy trial, and can choose to invoke or waive that right. If the right is invoked, a jury trial must be set within 60 days.
If you are facing felony charges, it is important to consult with a criminal defense attorney as early in the process as possible. Your attorney can appear in Justice Court for you early on, and argue for your release or for a bail reduction. It is also important to have an experienced attorney for your preliminary hearing to make sure the State is meeting its burden to have the case bound over and set for trial.
The attorneys at Gregory & Waldo have experience handling all categories of felonies, such as drug crimes, felony DUI, casino marker cases, theft crimes, assaults and batteries, stalking, forgery, kidnapping, murder, sexual assault and white collar crimes. If you are facing felony charges, call 702-830-7925 for a free consultation.