Court Process for Felony Arrests
Hi, I’m Oklahoma City Attorney Aaron Easton and that’s the question we have for us today. Well, if you’ve been arrested for a felony, that means either that law enforcement had probable cause to arrest you and did so, or you were investigated for a crime that the district attorney felt there was probable cause, filled out a probable cause affidavit that was signed by a magistrate.
If that’s the case, either one of those scenarios, your first substantive hearing is going to be what’s known as a preliminary hearing. This is a hearing that the state of Oklahoma offers felony defendants that is not offered to misdemeanor defendants. Now, what has to happen at a preliminary hearing is the state of Oklahoma, the district attorney in the county in which you’re arrested, has to show the court that there’s probable cause that you are guilty of the crime you were arrested for.
Now, this is not a mini trial and in fact, the state is going to be the only party to present witnesses. Again, they’re just trying to meet a relatively low burden that there’s probable cause that you committed the violation you were charged with. If the court determines the probable cause does exist, the court will do what’s called bind you over and formally arraign you on the charges that you’ve been arrested for, that you’re being tried on. In which case, the pre-trial portion of your case will take place.
The Pre-Trial Process
This is a time when the defendant’s attorney and the state will confer on some matters when your attorney will motion the state of Oklahoma for what’s called discovery, police reports, any kind of body cam footage, things of that nature, in order to try to build the best defense they can build for your case.
The process could end prior to trial if the defendant and the state can come to an agreement on what’s called a plea bargain or if not, the case will proceed to trial. In Oklahoma, a defendant has a right to either a bench trial, which is a trial before a judge, or a jury trial which would be tried in front of 12 jurors.
The Trial Phase
Clearly, one of the outcomes of the trial and one that you and your attorney would be hoping for is that you’re acquitted of the charges. Now, of course, a possible outcome also is that you are convicted of what you’re charged with or perhaps some lesser included charge from your original arrest or charge.
If you’re convicted of a felony in Oklahoma, you have the constitutional right to what’s known as a direct criminal appeal where your case will be taken to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. In Oklahoma, civil cases go to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals. Criminal cases go to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.
The Appeals Process
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals will look at your case. Now, this is not a chance to retry or re-litigate the case that you try in a trial. More so, it’s an opportunity for your appellate counsel to make arguments that there were some procedural errors in your case, whether it be on the judge’s behalf the state’s behalf, perhaps the jury’s behalf, and make an argument that the conviction should not stand and should be overturned and you should either retry it again or the conviction should be vacated.
There are some other options if you are convicted and lose on appeal in the post-conviction atmosphere and that’s something that I go over in various other videos but if you’re facing a felony charge in Oklahoma, as you already know it’s a serious matter.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
It’s a matter that you’re going to want to get a private and confidential consultation with an attorney as soon as possible. It can never be too early to defend your rights and if you want to talk to an attorney with my firm, you can reach us at (918) 932-2833.