Criminal Felony Charges

Initial Appearance

This is the first time you would appear in court if you have felony charges. An initial appearance for a person in custody must be held within 24 hours of arrest. A summons with the date and time of the initial appearance is sent to individuals not in custody.

At the initial appearance, four important events take place:

  1. You will be informed of the felony allegations.
  2. You will be advised of the right to an attorney. If the court finds that you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed.
  3. Conditions of release are established. This means the court will determine if you shall be released on bond, on your own recognizance, on supervised released or remain jailed.
  4. Another court date is set for the next proceeding, usually in Justice Court or Superior Court.

Filing Charges

A felony charge is initiated by a complaint or an indictment. A prosecutor files a direct complaint in court, citing which crimes were allegedly committed. An indictment is issued by a grand jury, which determines from evidence presented by a prosecutor that a crime was committed and the suspect should stand trial on the allegations. Both a direct complaint and indictment define the alleged crimes and cite the date of offense and which laws were violated.

You will be notified when criminally charged and informed when to appear for the next court date. A judge can issue an arrest warrant if information is presented to indicate the person will not voluntarily appear in court at the scheduled time.

Preliminary Hearing

A person charged with felonies by a direct complaint has the right to a preliminary hearing. The prosecutor presents evidence and witnesses to try to establish probable cause that the crime was committed and the person should stand trial. Generally, a preliminary hearing is held in Justice Court, but it may be held in Superior Court. The judge can dismiss the case for insufficient evidence or order a trial.

Advisory For All Criminal Charges

Please be advised you must appear for all court proceedings. Failure to appear could result in a warrant being issued, a new charge of failure to appear could be filed against you, and if your matter is traffic related your license could be suspended as a result of the warrant.

 Please note: If you are not a citizen of the United States, pleading guilty or no contest to a crime or being found guilty of a crime whether by submission or by trial, may affect your immigration status. Admitting guilt or being found guilty may result in deportation even if the charge is later dismissed. Your plea or admission of guilt, or being found guilty, could result in your deportation or removal, prevent you from ever being able to get legal status in the United States, or prevent you from becoming a United States Citizen.