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The purpose of this page is to explain the felony court process, so that those charged with a felony will know what to expect in their court case. If you or a loved one has been arrested for a felony, there are likely many questions racing through your minds. Our hope at Lee Lyu Martell, is that we can give you at least some peace of mind, by knowing what to expect. Felonies are the most serious of crimes in our criminal justice system in California, therefore, if you or a loved one is being charged with a felony, you should not attempt to go through this process alone. Call our San Bernardino County Criminal Defense Attorney today at 760-948-0630 to discuss your case and schedule a consultation.
The Preliminary Hearing Stage (Formerly known as Municipal Court)
The first of the two stages in a felony case is the Preliminary Hearing stage. It is important to note that a felony defendant is required to be present at every hearing, therefore, if you are out of custody, you must return to court whenever there is a hearing. The first hearing that the defendant will be present, is the arraignment. At the arraignment, the defendant must enter a plea of either guilty, no contest, or not guilty. At this time, the court does not consider any evidence in determining whether the charges are true. At the arraignment, the issue of bail will generally come up. At this time, the court has the power to set or modify bail. Depending on the seriousness of the offense, as well as many other factors, the court may raise or lower bail, or release the defendant on his or her own recognizance, meaning that no bail is set, but you are agreeing to appear in court whenever the court summons you.
After the arraignment, the court will usually set a pretrial court date and a preliminary hearing date. The preliminary hearing will be heard within ten (10) days of the arraignment, unless the defendant agrees to waive this time limit. The pretrial date is set so that the prosecution and the criminal defense attorney can discuss the case, in efforts to settle the case before proceeding with the preliminary hearing. In many cases, the case is resolved before the preliminary hearing takes place. However, if the case cannot be resolved at the pretrial stage, then the preliminary hearing will take place. At the preliminary hearing, the prosecution must merely show that there is probably cause that the defendant committed the crimes he or she is charged with. This burden can generally be easily met, as the prosecutor need only call the one law enforcement officer who handled the case. The prosecutor does not have to prove his or her case "beyond a reasonable doubt" at this stage of the case. If the prosecution "wins" the preliminary hearing, then the case is sent to Superior Court for the trial stage of the case.
Disclaimer: The legal information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship. Any results set forth herein are based upon the facts of that particular case and do not represent a promise or guarantee.