If you or a loved one has been charged with a felony, it can be one of the scariest times you’ll experience. Most people might not understand the fine differences between felonies, their specific classes and misdemeanors, but they generally know felonies are serious crimes with more severe punishments. In fact, felonies in Kentucky are punished by a minimum of one year in jail and fines that can range from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on the type of crime committed.
The criminal charging process in Kentucky
Knowing what to expect from the legal process for felony criminal charges in Lexington, KY will help you understand what you’ll be up against in the coming days. Above all, make sure you have an experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney on your side:
- Arrest: The first step in charging a defendant with a felony is to arrest them. The police will bring the person into the station for questioning and will likely keep them in jail until they can be charged and arraigned, although this will depend on the severity of the crime.
- Charging: Next, the police or the complaining witness reports the crime to the district attorney, also known as the county attorney or prosecutor. The prosecutor will evaluate the case and evidence and determine whether there’s enough evidence to proceed on any felony or misdemeanor charges. Sometimes a prosecutor will decide that there isn’t enough evidence, or that the evidence was illegally obtained, which won’t support a conviction in court. If there is enough evidence, they will file charges and issue a written complaint. The case will then proceed to the next steps.
- Bond setting: After a defendant is arrested, a pretrial services officer interviews them and gathers information about the defendant, the crime of which they were accused and any mitigating or extenuating circumstances that could have an effect on whether they should be released. At this point, they will make a recommendation to the judge about releasing the defendant on bond, typically striving for the least limiting release terms.
- Arraignment: Next, the defendant appears in court to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest. Depending on what the defendant chooses, the case will either proceed to pretrial hearings and conferences, or the prosecution and defense will work together to determine an appropriate deal. If bond is required, the judge will also determine the conditions of bond.
- Pleas and negotiations: Depending on how the defendant decided to enter their plea, it may be time to negotiate a plea deal. This is when the prosecutor reviews the evidence and offers a lesser punishment to avoid the time and expense of trial, and can be offered at any point up until the jury reaches a verdict. If no plea agreement is reached, the case proceeds to trial and potentially sentencing.
Do you need an attorney to help you understand the legal process for felonies in Lexington, KY? Reach out to Oakley & Oakley LLC today to set up a consultation.