What to Expect at a Felony Court Proceeding

February 11, 2010 by Maricopa County Court  
Filed under Criminal Court

By Joseph Devine –

The criminal court system can be confusing, especially for those involved in a felony case. If you have been charged with a felony in Rhode Island, it is important to understand the proceedings of the state’s criminal court.

After an arrest, the defendant is brought before the District Court. If the defendant is charged with a felony, he or she is not given the option to plead guilty or not guilty at this time. Instead, two simultaneous events occur: information charging and grand jury proceedings.

Information charging. A prosecution officer from the police department presents the case to the a prosecuting attorney at the Office of the Attorney General. The prosecuting attorney reviews the case and decides if enough evidence exists to charge the defendant. If the prosecuting attorney finds no information, the defendant is not charged. If he or she finds sufficient information, the defendant is charged with the crime.
Grand Jury proceedings. At Grand Jury proceedings, neither the defendant nor a defense attorney are present. Defendants are not usually informed of these proceedings until an indictment is reached, and the proceedings are secret initially. A prosecuting attorney presents the case to the Grand Jury, and the victims and witnesses testify. Professionals involved in the case, including a police detective, doctors, social workers, and others may also testify. With a ruling of “no true bill,” the case is not charged because of insufficient evidence or other reasons, and the proceedings are sealed. A “true bill” ruling results in an indictment and the defendant is formally charged with the crime.

If the defendant is charged with the crime, either through information charging or through indictment by the Grand Jury, the case proceeds to the state Supreme Court. At a pre-arraignment conference, the defense and the prosecution may reach a settlement through negotiation. If no settlement is reached, bail is reset during the subsequent arraignment. At the pre-trial conference, the defense and the prosecution have a second opportunity to reach a possible settlement through a “plea agreement.” If a settlement is still not reached, the case proceeds to trial.

At the trial, the case is presented to the judge and jurors. If the defendant is found guilty, he or she may face a sentence ranging from probation to the maximum allowable sentence in prison.

For more information about felony charges resulting from a DUI, visit the website of Rhode Island  drunk driving attorney James Powderly.

Joseph Devine

Article Source:  What to Expect at a Felony Court Proceeding

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