How Are Serious Felonies Handled In Court?

How Are Serious Felonies Handled In Court?

Friends, loved ones and family members of someone accused of a felony are often shocked to learn of the charge or arrest.  It’s not unusual for lawyers to be asked:  What Can I Do?  What Happens Next?  What Happens To People Charged With Felonies?  How Are Felonies Handled in Court?  Frankly, the people charged with the offense, which likely starts with an arrest, face some the same issues.  Good information makes for good choices.

The attorneys at Powers Law Firm PA are here to answer questions.  Immediately following an arrest, charge or indictment, it makes sense to address:

  • If arrested, How Do You Get Out of Jail?
  • What is “Bond?”
  • When is Court?
  • What is an Initial Appearance?
  • What is a Bond Hearing?
  • What is an Indictment?
  • What is Probable Cause?
  • What is a Waiver of Probable Cause?
  • Are Felonies Handled in District Court or Superior Court?
  • How Long Does It Take?
  • What Is Discovery?
  • What Is a Plea Offer?
  • What is a Felony?
  • What is a Misdemeanor?
  • What is Punishment for a Felony?
  • What is the Punishment for a Misdemeanor?
  • How Are Felonies Handled In Court?

Step One:  Determining the Charges

There are several different ways to determine what charges have been made by the State of North Carolina against the accused.  First and foremost, the charging officer normally will advise, even in simple terms, “You are being arrested for. . . .”  In addition to that oral notice, there are a series of procedural steps to insure people accused of all criminal cases in North Carolina are provided sufficient “notice” of the allegations.

Thereafter, it would not be unexpected to be provided a copy of an Uniform Citation, Warrant or other “charging documents” that set forth the:

  • Nature of the Charges & Brief Statement of the Allegations
  • Offense Date(s)
  • Alleged Date, Time and/or Location of Offense
  • Upcoming Court Appearances
  • Complaining Officer / Witness Information

North Carolina General Statute 15A-401 states in relevant part:

Upon making an arrest, a law-enforcement officer must:

a.         Identify himself as a law-enforcement officer unless his identity is otherwise apparent,

b.         Inform the arrested person that he is under arrest, and

c.         As promptly as is reasonable under the circumstances, inform the arrested person of the cause of the arrest, unless the cause appears to be evident.

Information becomes public, and online the North Carolina Court Date Inquiry.  While the specifics of the charges are not listed, the provided link can be utilized to see pending charges and to confirm court dates.  Some counties also provide to the public information online.  The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Department regularly updates an Inmate Inquiry.  In both instances, there may be a delay in posting information.

Transcript for Hearing Impaired: How Are Felonies Handled In Court?  

Normally, when someone is charged with a felony, they’ve been arrested and they start the process out in jail. Thereafter, they’re entitled to a series of hearings to make sure their rights are followed or that we’re following the statutory protocols in North Carolina.

The first hearing will oftentimes be in administrative court, it may be a first appearance, it may be done by video and you may be brought to court. It depends on the jurisdiction.

Thereafter, you’re entitled to a bond hearing and shortly after that you’re entitled to what’s called a probable cause hearing. 

Eventually, felony charges normally will end up in Superior Court, that can happen via a indictment through a grand jury or someone can voluntarily waive to Superior Court.

Now there are exceptions, there are certain lower level felonies that can be handled in District Court. They are normally pleas and that is the, I guess, exception to the rule. 

Either way, if you or someone you care about has been charged with a felony in North Carolina, give us ring. We offer a free confidential consultation and we can help you navigate through the legal system. Whether it’s in Charlotte or one of the surrounding counties or heck, Asheville, we’re here to help. The telephone number is 704-342-HELP. That’s 704-342-4357. I look forward to hearing from you.

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