Being charged with a felony is a serious matter with harsh consequences if you’re convicted. Depending on the specific charges, you could face steep fines and years in prison. With so much at stake, it’s critical to retain a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer in Evansville, Indiana.
With over 30 years of experience, Verdelski Miller has what it takes to defend clients facing serious charges. Contact our offices for a free case evaluation today.
What is a Felony?
A felony, in Indiana, is a crime that’s more serious than a misdemeanor and carries a penalty of over 1 year in prison. Felonies include serious crimes such as burglary, murder, and rape. There are several different levels of felony charges.
A conviction for a felony can result in harsh penalties, including substantial imprisonment and hefty fines. If the crime was perpetrated at a federal level, you could serve time in a federal penitentiary instead of a local state prison.
The Legal Process After a Felony Charge
The legal journey following a felony charge typically involves several key stages.
This is the initial step post a felony charge. During the arraignment, the following usually transpires:
- The charge is read out to the accused.
- The court ensures that the accused has legal representation or is in the process of securing one.
- The court contemplates setting a bond to ensure the accused’s freedom pending trial.
- A date for a preliminary hearing is set.
The arraignment often marks the commencement of the criminal case and provides defendants with crucial information on their constitutional rights and the criminal charges against them. If the defendant doesn’t receive a copy of the charges by mail, they will receive the information (charging document) at the arraignment.
This document lists all the charges, as well as the maximum penalties for each count and any enhancements. The judge gives the defendant an option of waiving the formal reading of the charging document. Judges ask the defendant if they understand the charges and maximum penalties.
This is a probable cause hearing where the burden is on the State to demonstrate that a felony likely occurred and that the accused likely committed it. If the State is successful, the accused will be bound over to the Circuit Court for further arraignment within 40 days.
A preliminary hearing is somewhat akin to a mini-trial. The prosecution can call witnesses to testify and present physical evidence or documents and records to show the defendant likely committed the crime. The defense may challenge the evidence and charge.
Steps to Take If You Are Charged With a Felony
If you find yourself facing a felony charge, there are several steps you should undertake to safeguard your rights and interests.
Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent
The Fifth Amendment grants you the right to refuse to incriminate yourself in a criminal case. If you are arrested or questioned by law enforcement, you have the right to remain silent. This means you do not have to answer any questions about the alleged crime.
It’s important to remember that anything you say can and will be used against you in court. Politely insist that you will not answer any questions without a lawyer present.
Stay Calm and Be Polite
Even if you believe you have been wrongfully arrested, do not resist arrest or attempt to argue with police officers. Resisting arrest could lead to additional charges and potentially escalate the situation. Instead, comply with the officers’ instructions and maintain a polite demeanor
Reach Out to an Attorney Immediately
Engaging a criminal defense attorney as soon as you are accused of a crime is crucial. Your attorney can help you comprehend and exercise your rights, and fight for your freedom. They can also represent you in court, negotiate with prosecutors, and work to protect your interests.
Call an Experienced Evansville Criminal Defense Lawyer
Being charged with a felony is a serious matter, with harsh consequences if you’re convicted. Understanding the legal process and knowing the steps to take can help protect your rights. If you find yourself in such a situation, you need a skilled Evansville criminal defense lawyer.