While any arrest is serious, there are distinctions within criminal law between crimes that are dealt with more harshly than others. Misdemeanors, as a general rule, are those arrests which carry a maximum potential sentence of One Year or less in County Jail. They include first time offenses for many of the most common crimes committed in Oklahoma: DUI, Possession of CDS, Assault and Batter (Both Domestic and Non-Domestic). This is certainly not an exhaustive list. Felonies, in contrast, carry penalties with State Penitentiary (Department of Corrections) incarceration, from anywhere from no minimum time to Life Without Parole.
The basic process for a Misdemeanor charge is not too terribly complex. However, if you have bonded out you will be required to hire an attorney- in the State's opinion, if you can afford the Bondsman, you can afford to hire your own representation. Further, it is important to note that in Tulsa County (and many surrounding Counties) you must retain representation extremely quickly. You may have friends or past experiences that tell you you have many months and "passes" before you absolutely required to have an attorney. This is no longer the case. I see people get taken into custody every day for failing to have an attorney during the arraignment docket.
The first Court appearance is called an Arraignment. This is usually a 5 minute court appearance (if you have an attorney- without one you could be sitting there waiting for your name to be called for over 3 hours). Your attorney will walk to the front of the Courtroom, announce your presence, and request the appropriate setting. This is usually either a pass or for status conference. The Judge will give a date roughly 3 to 4 weeks out for either one. In the interim, your attorney will request discovery in the case and get ready to present any initial defenses to the District Attorney at your next Court appearance.
A Status Conference is just what it sounds like- it checks the status of your case. Your attorney will conference with the Judge and DA, and this will be the first time you receive the initial recommendation from the DA as far as a plea bargain. If it is appropriate, sometimes this will also be your plea date. If there are aspects of the case to contest, your attorney will likely set either a Pre-Trial Conference date or request a Motion Hearing date.
The complexity increases exponentially from this point forward and I would be happy to explain the rest of the process if and when it becomes necessary. It is important to fully discuss the potential outcomes with any attorney you are considering hiring, as well as their aversion to going to trial. Not every case needs to go to a jury trial. However, having an attorney who isn't afraid to 'put on a trial' is extremely important. Beyond this, it is important to find an attorney you trust and you feel you can work with. I am direct and honest with my appraisals of client's situations, as well as potential/likely outcomes.
Please call 918.592.2300 day or night for a free consultation or to schedule a meeting to discuss your specific case. I look forward to hearing from you soon.