What Happens If You Are Charged with a Felony?

A felony is the most serious of all criminal offenses in South Carolina. This classification applies to charges that carry a penalty of at least 1 year in prison. If you are charged with a felony, you should waste no time before hiring an experienced Easley criminal defense lawyer.

Here is the entire process you may expect to go through from the beginning to the conclusion:

1. The Arraignment

After you are charged with a felony, you will have to appear before a judge for the arraignment. This initial court date is necessary to formalize the fact that you are charged with a crime.

During the arraignment, the only persons present are the judge, the prosecutor and the defendant. At this point, the following things will usually happen:

  • You will be read the charges brought against you
  • The court will check that you have an attorney, otherwise one will be assigned to you
  • The court will consider whether you can be released on bail and set the value
  • A date will be set for the preliminary hearing

It is important to note that being released on bail is a privilege, not a right. The judge will analyze a long list of factors before approving bail. Some of these factors are:

  • Family ties
  • The existence of a prior criminal record
  • Employment
  • Financial situation
  • Duration of residence in the local community

2. The Preliminary Hearing

During the preliminary hearing, the prosecution must prove probable cause for pursuing the criminal case. If a person is charged with a felony, the prosecutor must show during the preliminary hearing:

  • That the felony was probably committed
  • That the defendant probably committed the respective felony

At this point in the criminal case, an experienced Easley criminal defense lawyer will try to get the charges dismissed. If the evidence is weak or consists only of circumstantial evidence, the attorney will point out these issues to the judge.

If the lawyer’s points are valid and the judge agrees with them, the court will dismiss the case. This means that you can walk away free of any charges.

However, if the judge agrees that the prosecution has probable cause, the case will move to the Circuit Court for trial.

a felony charge is followed by the arraignment hearing

3. Arraignment in the Circuit Court

Defendants charged with a felony will undergo a second arraignment before the Circuit Court, where their case will be tried. During this second arraignment, the following things usually happen:

  • The charges will be read again
  • You will enter a plea: guilty, not guilty or no contest
  • The court will again ascertain that you are represented by a lawyer
  • The court will consider whether you may continue to remain free on bail during the trial
  • The court will set the date for the trial

4. The Trial

A criminal trial is a complex legal procedure that may take months, depending on the severity of the charges and the evidence to be presented. Before the trial, both the defense and the prosecution will be involved in the process of jury selection.

Once this preliminary stage is completed, the trial itself starts with the opening statements made by the prosecution and the defense attorney.

Each party will present their point of view and make a short summary of the facts of the case and the evidence that will be presented.

Witnesses for both sides will take the stand and give testimony. Each party has the right to question the other party’s witnesses. After all witnesses were heard and all evidence was presented, the defense and the prosecution will give their closing statements.

Afterwards, the jury will withdraw to deliberate until they reach a verdict. The foreperson of the jury will read the verdict in court. The judge will then set a later date for giving the sentence.

Consult with an Experienced Easley Criminal Defense Lawyer!

If you were charged with a felony, do not waste valuable time – consult with an experienced Easley criminal defense lawyer and face the situation with the best defender by your side.

The only choice you have during a criminal case is who protects your rights, so do not surrender it to the court. Call us today to schedule a free case evaluation: 864-777-4615!

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