A felony is a crime that may be punishable by confinement for more than a year in a state prison. The steps through a felony case are as follows:
- Initial Appearance: A defendant’s first appearance in court. At this court appearance, the defendant is informed of the charges and penalties, bail is set and a date for the preliminary hearing is set.
- Preliminary Hearing: A judge hears testimony to decide if there is probable cause to believe a crime was committed by the defendant. If the judge feels there is enough evidence to make the defendant stand trial, the case continues and is "bound over" for trial. This is not a trial, so the state typically does not subpoena all of its possible witnesses.
- Arraignment: The defendant pleads guilty, not guilty or no contest. If there is a plea of guilty or no contest, a date is set for the sentencing hearing.
- Motions: A verbal or written request that asks the judge to decide a legal question made by the prosecutor or the defense attorney before, during or after the trial.
- Trial: An official hearing in which either a jury (jury trial) or judge (bench trial) hears the facts of the case. Through physical evidence and testimony by witnesses, the prosecutor attempts to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge may sentence the defendant immediately or set the case for a sentencing hearing.
- Sentencing: A court hearing in which the judge decides how to punish and rehabilitate the defendant. A sentencing hearing follows a plea of guilty or no contest plea or a finding of guilty by a jury or judge.
- Restitution Hearing: A court hearing held at or after sentencing at which the court determines the amount of restitution which may be ordered for the victim(s). The defendant can dispute either the amount the victim is requesting or the defendant’s ability to pay the amount requested. In establishing the amount of restitution to be ordered, the court must determine both the amount the victim is entitled to and the amount the defendant has the ability to pay. Victims will have the obligation of producing documentation and evidence to justify the amount they are requesting and appear at the hearing to support the claim. Victims are entitled to representation at this hearing and may retain counsel if they wish to do so.