If you or someone you love has been arrested, or you even think an arrest is possible, get the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney may be able to work with the police and/or the District Attorney’s office to have charges reduced. Then, he or she will fight for your rights through every stage of the process, including:
- Challenging evidence
- Negotiating a plea deal when appropriate
- Arguing for bail
- Investigating your case
- Litigating your case
And, if you are found guilty:
- Presenting mitigating factors for a lighter sentence
- Appealing your case
- Representing you at parole hearings
Whether a crime is categorized as a felony or a misdemeanor depends on the seriousness of the charge and the maximum punishment for the crime. Felony charges are reserved for society’s most serious crimes, including:
- Aggravated Assault
- 4th and Subsequent DUI offenses
- Drug possession, manufacturing, distribution and trafficking
- Manslaughter and murder
The consequences of being convicted of a felony are very serious. You may have to pay a steep fine and serve significant time in state or federal prison. When you get out, you may have trouble finding a job and a place to live and may lose some citizenship rights, such as the right to vote and own a gun. In capital cases, you may never be released, and may even face the death penalty.
The legal process
First, your attorney will begin preparing your defense immediately and will represent you at an arraignment hearing. Here, the charges against you will be read, and you will plead either guilty or not guilty. Your attorney will request bail, if applicable, and the judge will decide whether or not to grant it and set the amount.
You will then have a series of calendars to potentially argue legal motions and calendar calls updating the judge on the status of your case. During this time, evidence gathering and exchange will be an ongoing process. Every case is unique. Yet the best defense is always to retain a skilled criminal defense attorney.