About Felony Charges

ADDITIONAL FELONY CONSIDERATIONS

If you are charged by an "Information" then you have a right to a Preliminary Hearing which is a brief hearing where the state has to prove to the judge that there is some evidence that you may have committed a crime. This is not a full blown trial. Many times the State's Attorney avoids this hearing by getting a "Grand Jury Indictment" which cancels a preliminary hearing.

A "Grand Jury" is a group of people convened by the State's Attorney. The State's Attorney brings evidence before the Grand Jury and asks the Grand Jury to sign off on your charge. If all the Grand Jurors sign off on the charge it is called an "Indictment". The Grand Jury is a closed and secret proceeding, you and your attorney are not allowed in.

FELONY SENTENCES:

Most Felony charges allow for a sentence of different kinds of probation. Probation is a period of time where the judge and a probation officer watch over you and not send you to prison. A judge can order fines, costs, evaluations, treatment, community service, drugs tests, and many other conditions including up to 6 months jail as terms of a probation.

There are some forms of "First Offender" probation or other programs like "T.A.S.C." available to mostly first time non-violent offenders who have substance abuse problems. These "First Offender" probations can get a case dismissed if all conditions are met. In some cases, a "First Offender" probation can prevent a criminal conviction of record and may even be expunged or sealed from public record. Otherwise all Felonies are a permanent conviction of record. Some special offenses are not allowed any probation.

Many Jurisdictions also offer "Drug Courts" or Mental Health Courts" for persons suffering from problems with drugs or mental illnesses. If accepted into these courts a person might be able to avoid a criminal conviction on their record if they follow all of the guidelines set by the court, very similar to a form of probation.

If you do not get a probation then based on your class of felony the following basic prison schedule is used:

Class Four = 1 to 3 years; Class Three = 2 to 5 years; Class Two = 3 to 7 years; Class One = 4 to 15 years; Class X = 6 to 30 years.

Most prison sentences only require 50% of the time be served with good behavior. This is called "day-for-day" credit. Some offenses require 75%, 85% and sometimes even 100% of the prison sentence be served. If you serve jail time while waiting for your case to finish you get "time credit" for each day served also taken off your sentence. Some people mistakenly think that "day-for-day" means you can also multiply your "time credit" by 2, this is not true.

Some particular offenses carry special additional prison penalties, and special minimum penalties and repeat offenders can face double penalties.