After a person has been charged with a criminal offense in Salisbury, they can expect that there may be multiple court appearances that will eventually lead to a trial. If the defendant has been charged with a felony, they should request a preliminary hearing, however, this has to be requested within 10 days of being arrested. To learn more about the charges you are facing and how to proceed consult with a Salisbury criminal lawyer today.
A preliminary hearing requires that the state produce a witness to explain the probable cause that supports the felony charges. A preliminary hearing is a very one-sided hearing as it is all about the state. The defense does not get to produce any evidence or put any witnesses on the stand, however it does provide an opportunity to hear what the state’s evidence is.
Sometimes the preliminary hearing can be an opportunity for your attorney to negotiate with the prosecutor and a chance to get the felonies dropped.
Formal Charging Documents
If a felony charge is supported by probable cause, then the state has 30 days to file criminal information. This is the formal charging document that is required in circuit court.
After a criminal information has been filed, the court will schedule the defendant for an initial appearance. This is when the court explains the charges and the maximum penalties and explains to the defendant his right to an attorney.
An Initial Appearance
If you have already hired an attorney and they have an entered an appearance as your attorney, then the court will cancel this initial appearance.
In circuit court cases, the defendant has the right to file important motions. These are motions that can be litigated at a hearing and the goal of that hearing is to argue to the judge that the evidence against the defendant should be excluded.
Filing Motions With The Court
These motions have to be filed within 30 days of either the defendant’s first appearance in front of the court or the day that the attorney entered her appearance as counsel for the defendant. After that 30-day window has closed, the defendant loses the right to litigate these important motions to suppress.
For this reason, it is very important to have your attorney in place and filing papers as soon as your case is charged in the circuit court. After a motion to suppress hearing is litigated, the next step will be the trial. In circuit court, if a person has been charged with felonies or if they have requested that their case be heard by a jury, then the defendant will have to make an important decision about how to proceed with their case.
Plea Negotiation or Trial
An important decision that the defendant will have to make is whether or not to negotiate a plea that may be in the best interest of the defendant. The defendant also will have to decide if he wants this case to be heard by a jury or whether or not he wants this case to be heard by just the judge.