When you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, one of the most difficult parts is not knowing what to expect next. Understanding the process can remove some of the stress from the situation so you can focus on preparing your defense.

After you are arrested, the police will transfer your case to the District Attorney, who will review the police report and determine whether or not to press charges against you. If they do want to press charges, they will issue a formal criminal complaint that details the misdemeanor or felony charges you are facing.

A felony is a type of crime that encompasses a more severe level of punishment as compared to lesser crimes, such as misdemeanors and violations. If you have been charged with any type of felony, such as a sex crime or aggravated assault, contact a criminal defense lawyer to help you better understand your situation. Your criminal attorney can advise you as to whether you are facing a first-degree, second-degree, or third-degree felony. A first-degree felony is the most serious type of felony that can lead to the most severe repercussions.

If you’re convicted of a felony, you’re almost certainly facing a long prison sentence, as compared to up to a year in jail for lesser crimes. The court can order you to pay fines and restitution. After you’re released from prison, you’ll likely have a sentence of probation. Plus, you’ll face other long-term consequences, such as losing your right to own firearms, to vote, or to serve in the military.

You will learn about your charges at the initial court hearing. During this hearing, the judge will tell you what charges are being brought against you and what the maximum penalties are. At this time, you will also learn whether bail has been set and if so, how much it is.

The preliminary hearing will take place next. At this hearing, the prosecutor must be able to prove to the judge that there is enough evidence to charge the defendant with what has been laid out in the official complaint. The judge will review the evidence and determine whether to throw out the charges or move forward with the case.

Next, you will be asked to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. It’s important that you do not make this decision before consulting with a criminal defense attorney.

If you enter a plea of not guilty, your case will go to trial. You may be offered a plea deal that gives you a shorter sentence in exchange for admitting guilt. Although this may seem like an attractive offer, this is another decision you shouldn’t make without the help of an attorney.

For exceptional criminal representation, turn to the Law Offices of Jeffrey C. Grass in Dallas, Texas. Call (972) 954-4441 to schedule a consultation with our criminal defense attorney or visit our website to learn how we can help you move forward by connecting you with counseling, rehabilitation, and other services.