Defense of a Felony Case takes special treatment, usually with the help of a Felony Criminal Defense Lawyer. The additional steps involved in Defense of a Felony Case, plus the additional rights and procedures, take special handling. This article attempts to inform and describe those steps, and the procedures involved.
Felony Arrest Procedures
A felony arrest usually requires that the individual arrested be taken into police custody, and that bail be set. So, the arrest process for a felony has the following steps:
- Detention and arrest
- Determination of charges to be recommended; and
- Setting of bail and dates for court.
The detention and arrest requires that the person be taken into handcuffs and to jail pending charges and a court appearance. The determination of charges are the recommendation that the police make to the prosecutor (the county’s District Attorney or city’s City Attorney Prosecutor). In turn, it is what the charges are that sets what the bail is initially set at.
The Bail Process:
Bail starts at whatever the county’s recommended bail is for that particular crime. It’s different for each county in California. It can be lowered, or set higher, if the case, or the defendant, has either aggravating factors, which would make the bail higher, or mitigating factors, which would cause the bail to be lowered.
For bail, the following are in general considered to be factors that can be argued to reduce bail, to zero, or any amount below the scheduled bail:
- The defendant’s ties to the community, and thus flight risk;
- The defendant’s ownership of property, businesses, or family in the area;
- The defendant’s flight risk;
- The danger to the community; and
- The seriousness of the crime.
The whole purpose of bail is to ensure the defendant’s attendance at his or her court hearings, from start to finish in the case, and all of the above factors are details of this one goal. Once the case is over, by plea, dismissal, or a finding of guilty, whatever bail was paid is returned by the county to the person that paid the bail. If the person skips town or does not make their appearances, the bail is lost.
Felony Court Stage One: Arraignment
The arraignment is the first court appearance in any felony case, and the very first court related step in a Defense of a Felony Case. In Orange County Superior Court, the judge will ask whether or not the defendant has an Orange County Defense Lawyer, or needs to be appointed a public defender. They will ask the attorney or the defendant whether or not he or she wants to plead guilty, or not guilty, or waive time for a speedy trial.
Felony Court Stage Two: Pre-Preliminary Hearing
The purpose of this stage is to see if both sides are ready for a preliminary hearing, or if the case can be negotiated to avoid one. That means that all the negatives and positives of the case would be discussed, and both sides would see if they had all the evidence needed to evaluate the case, including witnesses, documents, audio and video.
At this stage, the defense and the prosecution would usually negotiate a plea bargain, which would avoid the officers and other witnesses coming into court.
Felony Court Stage Three: Preliminary Hearing
The preliminary hearing, which is called a probable cause hearing in other jurisdictions, is a significant hearing. The case can be dismissed at this stage just by their being not enough evidence to prosecute. If the case does not have sufficient evidence, then the judge can dismiss the matter, rather than have it proceed to trial.
In most cases, the police are called by the prosecutor, and are put on the stand to describe what they saw, dates, locations, and times, and try to establish that a basic case exists, and that the defendant is connected to it. That is all that is needed to be proven at this hearing, unlike the more rigorous trial.
Felony Court Stage Four: Superior Court Arraignment
If the preliminary hearing is successful, then the case will be “bound over”, and another arraignment will be set, in Superior Court. In most cases in Orange County, this means that the judge will change, and again, the new judge will ask the defendant to plead guilty or not guilty, and if they want a public defender, a private attorney, or to represent themselves. At this hearing, two additional dates will be set, the pretrial, and the trial.
Felony Court Stage Five: Pretrial
At a pretrial, both sides evaluate the evidence to be used at trial, discuss the defenses, any strengths or weaknesses of the case, and whether or not the case can plea bargain. If the case cannot end up in a negotiated settlement or plea bargain, then it proceeds to trial.
Defense of a Felony Case Stage Six: Trial
- At trial, all of the following takes place:
- Jury Selection (Voir Dire)
- Opening Statements
- Presentation of Evidence by the Prosecutor
- Presentation of Evidence by the Defense
- Presentation of any Rebuttal Evidence
- Closing Arguments
- Jury Instructions
- Jury Deliberation
At the end of a trial, the jury can be hung, if they cannot make a decision, or will vote guilty, or not guilty.
Contact us for questions
Contact our firm today for any questions you have about the felony process. We are happy to help and have years of experience handling felony matters in Orange County.