A criminal felony is a crime that issues more serious than a misdemeanor.
A misdemeanor criminal offense is a crime in which the maximum punishment is up to one year in jail.
Certain traffic offenses, when committed, are considered to be misdemeanor offenses.
There are two degrees of misdemeanor offenses:
- 1st-degree offenses have a maximum punishment of 1 year in jail, 12 months of supervised probation, and a $1000 fine.
- 2nd-degree offenses have a maximum punishment of 60 days in jail, 6 months of supervised probation, and a $500 fine.
Stages of the Criminal Case
Once an officer has probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, the individual will either be released with a notice to appear or will be arrested and taken into custody.
Upon arrest, if the individual is able to post bond, he will be processed for release from the county jail. However, if a person is unable to post bond, the individual must be taken to the first appearance within 24 hours of the time of their arrest. At this hearing, the individual will hear from a Judge the crime for which he was arrested, whether or not there was probable cause for the arrest, the conditions on which he will be released, and the next court date.
The court date following the first appearance is an arraignment. It is at the arraignment where the individual will learn what crime the Prosecutor (State) has officially charged.
The pre-trial conference occurs if the case is not resolved prior to this court date. This is where the Judge is notified whether the case will be resolved by plea or trial. Plea negotiations take place between arraignment and pre-trial conference to allow the accused an opportunity to make an informed decision as to whether they will resolve the case with a plea or take the case to the final step in the criminal process, Trial.
The trial occurs if the plea extended by the Prosecutor is not accepted. This is where a jury consisting of six people is selected to determine whether the accused is guilty or not guilty after listening to evidence and argument presented by both the prosecutor and defense counsel. At the end of the trial, the Jury decides the verdict of guilty or not guilty.