If you have been charged with a crime, you have the right to be represented by a Criminal Defense Attorney. You will likely have many questions about your case and the criminal legal process. Our office represents individuals charged with both misdemeanors and felonies. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with a Columbia, Missouri Criminal Defense Attorney for a consultation about your case.
Some Common Legal Terms in Criminal Cases:
Arrest: An arrest occurs when a person is taken into police custody. Sometimes citations are issued instead of an arrest-traffic offenses are a common example of this.
Defendant: In a criminal case, the defendant is the person charged with a crime.
Arraignment: An arraignment a defendant's first court appearance after an arrest. During an arraignment the formal criminal charge is read to the defendant. The defendant is given a chance to request a court-appointed attorney if they cannot afford to hire an attorney and is given an opportunity to plead either guilty or not guilty to the crime.
Misdemeanor: Misdemeanors are divided into three categories in Missouri, Class A, B and C misdemeanors. In Missouri, a Class A misdemeanor is the most serious type of misdemeanor offense and carries a maximum fine of up to one thousand dollars and/or a term in the county jail not to exceed one year. Class B misdemeanors carry a fine of up to five hundred dollars and/or a term in the county jail not to exceed six months. Class C misdemeanors carry a fine of up to three hundred dollars and/or a term in the county jail not to exceed fifteen days.
Felony: A felony is a more serious type of crime than a misdemeanor. In Missouri, felonies are divided into four categories, Class A, B, C and D. In Missouri, a Class A felony carries a term of imprisonment of ten to thirty years, or life imprisonment. Class B felonies carry a term of imprisonment of five to fifteen years. For a Class C felony, a term of imprisonment not to exceed seven years and/or a fine of not more than five thousand dollars. For a Class D felony, a term of imprisonment not to exceed four years and/or a fine of not more than five thousand dollars.
Bail: The amount of money a defendant must pay to the court before he or she is released from police custody before their trial. The judge considers many factors when setting the bail amount including the severity of the crime they are accused of, past criminal history, and the defendant's flight risk. The judge may also release a defendant on his or her "own recognizance" (or, simply on the defendant's promise to appear for trial) in some cases.
Plea Bargain: Sometimes a prosecutor will make certain concessions in exchange for a guilty plea. One of our Columbia, Missouri Criminal Defense Attorneys can guide you through the process of making a decision about whether a plea bargain is right for you.
Preliminary Hearing: Preliminary hearings are only held in felony cases. The purpose of a preliminary hearing is for a judge to determine if the prosecution has enough evidence to continue on with a charge against a defendant. The prosecutor presents evidence to a judge and the judge decides if there is probable cause to believe the crime has been committed.