What is the difference between a Felony Case and a Misdemeanor Case:
Felony cases differ from misdemeanor cases in that felony cases involve more serious offenses and greater penalties upon conviction.
Additionally, in a misdemeanor case it is typically the police officer who signs the complaint and brings the charges against you. Whereas in a felony case, once the charge is filed, it is reviewed by either a judge at a preliminary hearing or by a grand jury.
What is a Preliminary Hearing:
A preliminary hearing is a hearing by a judge to determine whether a person charged with a crime should be held for trial. At the hearing, the state is required to produce sufficient evidence to establish that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that the defendant committed it. It is not a hearing to determine if you are guilty or innocent, but rather a hearing on whether you should have to go to trial. At a preliminary hearing you have the right to have an attorney present who can cross examine the police officer. Because you are present at the preliminary hearing and I can cross examine the state’s witness, I greatly prefer a preliminary hearing rather than a grand jury indictment.
What is a Grand Jury:
A grand jury is a group of citizens that hear the state’s evidence against you (they only hear one side of the story- – the states) and decide if there is probable cause that a crime has been committed and if so, they return a “Bill of Indictment,” against you. Because the grand jury is only hearing the state’s attorney’s side of the story – – you are not present nor is your attorney, most cases brought before the grand jury are returned with a bill of indictment. In other words, if your case goes before a grand jury, you will mostly likely be charged with the crime.
Handling a Felony Case:
The handling of a felony case is similar to that of a misdemeanor case in that I receive all of the evidence against you, including any video (DVD) evidence and review it with you. I engage in pre-trial talks with the state’s attorney and in some cases involve the judge in the talks. Once I have the bottom line on what offer is available, I then meet with you and we review the evidence and the offer and I give you my opinion on the best course of action to take. The decision is yours. However, I will absolutely have an opinion and I will voice that opinion.
One final note on pre-trial talks: the ability to negotiate a reduced sentence with the state attorney varies greatly between attorneys. One attorney may get you an offer of 10 years in prison while another attorney will get you probation or even the case dismissed. I take great pride in being able to obtain offers that other attorneys cannot even come close to getting. It is my ability to work with the state while at the same time having the state know that I am an attorney that will take a case to trial and win. They know that I will not take any crap offer that the state makes.