What Happens After Sentencing? Arrest, Jail, and the Court Process
What Happens Once You Are Out Of Jail? What Happens Up To The Point Where The Case Is Decided?
A lot of times, it depends on where you’re charged, what crime you are charged with and whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony. As far as a misdemeanor case, and you’re in District court, that’s the county court, the first thing that’s going to happen after you are arrested and make bond is you’re going to have a first appearance. That’s going to be relatively quickly.
At that first appearance, not a lot is going to happen. The judge is going to make sure that you know what you are charged with. You will be assigned a district judge or a magistrate judge in county court. You will get assigned a new judge and that will be your time to argue bond. If you have some sort of a problem with bond, maybe there is a condition that you don’t drive but you are a truck driver so you’ve got to drive, that’s the time that you can argue bond.
With misdemeanors, that’s also the time you’re going to be arraigned. Arraignment is the time in which they are going to ask you how you plead to the charges. After that, you’re going to have another scheduled appearance, which is called a scheduling docket or a no-go docket. A no-go docket is kind of an arbitrary court date to make sure your case keeps moving.
A scheduling or a no-go docket may happen two or three times depending on what you’re doing. If you need time to get money to hire a lawyer, you’re going to keep going in and they are going to keep scheduling it, again and again. After you get through that, that’s when your case is really going to start.
During those schedulings, you will hire a lawyer. That lawyer will request a discovery – police reports, videos, anything that the police have or the state has which they are going to use against you, and the attorney will go over it with you. Then you’ll have a good idea whether they can prove their case or not and you’ll start working on the plan. After that, it kind of branches out and a lot of different things can happen.
You may have a motions hearing. For example, if you found evidence in the case you’re trying to suppress or if the state is not giving you all the evidence and you want to compel them to, there are probably 50 different things that can happen at that time. The whole time that you are going through all these different court dates, your lawyer is also going to be talking to the prosecutor about any plea offer. They may come to you and say, “Oh, the case isn’t that good. We’re willing to offer you a lower charge or a lesser sentence or something like that.
At any time during all these court dates, the case can stop because you come to a plea agreement that you’re happy with. If that happens, then you will just schedule a plea date. On a misdemeanor case, you will do sentencing that day. If you can’t get a plea worked out during that time or the case doesn’t get dismissed, that’s when you will end up going to trial.
Before trial, you have a pretrial conference in which the state and your lawyer are trying to hash out all the details of what’s going to happen at trial, submit jury instructions, and then you’ll have your actual day in court. Your actual day in court is going to be either a jury trial or a bench trial.
At a jury trial, part of the day is going to be going through “Voir Dire” and making sure that you get the right jury selected. The attorneys are going to do their opening statements. The State is always going to go first in presenting evidence and then going through the case, whether you want to present evidence, whether you want to cross-examine witnesses etc.
At the end of the case, you’re going to have closing arguments. Shortly after, that’s when the jury is going to deliberate, or in a bench trial, the judge is going to deliberate and make his decision. After that’s all done, if you’re acquitted, then obviously nothing else happens. You’re free to go and you’re not guilty; if you’re found guilty, then you’ll have another day when you come back and do sentencing. That’s how a misdemeanor works.
The process is similar as far as felonies go, there are just a few added steps. When you are charged with a felony, you’re entitled to a preliminary hearing. How the court currently works is you’ll go for the first appearance, then to the no-go scheduling dockets where you will get the evidence against you, talk about the plea deal and then you have a preliminary examination.
A preliminary examination is unique to a felony. It’s like a little mini trial, in which the State has a burden of proving probable cause. It is a very low standard of proof. It’s kind of a screening tool to make sure cases that have absolutely no business in the court go away sooner rather than later.
Apart from this difference, the process is very similar to the misdemeanor cases. The only other real difference would be if you did a plea and sentencing, there are additional steps before you can be sentenced on a felony. In that case, they have to run a presentence investigation, which is basically a criminal history report. They also have to do an LSIR which is a way of evaluating a person’s amenability to being in custody and what level of supervision that person should be on.
Barring those three exceptions, it’s very similar to the misdemeanor case; those are both covering the District Court. When you move into the realm of Municipal Court, the process really varies quite a bit depending on the court. Most of the time when you go to a municipal court, you’re in a lot less trouble than you are if you are in District Court. In the District Court, on any felony appearance, you are required to be there. On misdemeanor cases, in the District Court and in the Municipal Court, most of the time you’re not required to be at court; only with a few exceptions such as trial, plea and sentencing.
At other times, the benefit of being in Municipal Court is your lawyer can go for you. Your lawyer is going to be working the case and you’re going to be a lot more hands off. It’s a very abridged version of the trial that you are going to have that level. The good thing about being in Municipal Court is that if you don’t feel you got a fair shake, at the end of the entire process, you can appeal. You can go to the District Court and you can enjoy the privileges and you would start completely over at the District Court.
If you want to Understand The Arrest, Jail, And Court Process, And What Happens After Sentencing, call Copley Roth & Davies LLC for a FREE Initial Consultation at (913) 451-9500 and get the information and legal answers you’re seeking.
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