The Criminal Process in Kansas
Johnson County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jerry Merrill Explains What to Expect When Facing Misdemeanor or Felony Charges
Defending against criminal charges in Kansas is a multi-stage process that involves numerous complex legal procedures. In order to defend yourself effectively, it is critical to have a thorough understanding of the procedures involved at each stage. The criminal defense process is different for cases involving felonies and misdemeanors. Although certain stages are similar, felony cases are more complex owing to the severity of the implications involved. However, since all crimes carry the potential for fines and prison time, it is important to have a clear understanding of what you can expect regardless of the charge (or charges) against you, and you need to work with a Johnson County criminal defense lawyer who has experience protecting clients before, during and after trial.1
What Happens After a Felony Arrest in Kansas
For individuals facing one or more felony charges in Kansas state court, the case will generally proceed as follows:
- Booking – After your arrest, you will be taken through the booking process. During this time, police detectives may or may not ask you questions rel01ated to the charges against you. Prior to conducting a custodial interrogation, the police are required to read your Miranda If they fail to do so, you may be entitled to have any statements you make withheld from your trial. Of course, the best way to avoid having your own words used against you is to remain silent and exercise your right to legal counsel.
- Preliminary Hearing – Once you have been booked, you will be scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing. This may occur at a prior “first appearance”. During your preliminary hearing, the prosecution will argue its case for the existence of “probable cause” to pursue felony charges at trial. If the court finds that probable cause is lacking, your felony charges will be dismissed, and but you could still be prosecuted for any misdemeanors with which you have been charged.
- Arraignment – The arraignment is next, and this is when you will enter your plea with respect to each of the felony charges against you. If you plead guilty, then your case will go directly to sentencing. If you plead not guilty, then your case will continue on the path toward trial.
- Pre–Trial Hearing – The next major step in the criminal defense process for felony cases is the pre-trial hearing. During this hearing, the prosecutors and your defense attorney can submit motions addressing various issues, including the admissibility of your own statements, witness testimony and other evidence. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your Johnson County criminal defense lawyer may also be able to argue for the dismissal of your charges at this stage.
- Trial – If your case is not resolved during the pre-trial phase (either through a dismissal or the negotiation of a plea deal), then the next step is trial. This can be either a bench trial or a jury trial, and felony trials can last anywhere from hours to weeks. During trial, the prosecutor’s office will present its case for guilt, and then your defense attorney will attempt to convince the judge or jury that the prosecution has not met its burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Sentencing – If you are convicted on any charges, then your case will proceed to sentencing. After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge will impose a sentence based on the Kansas Sentencing Grid for drug or non-drug offenses (unless you were convicted of an “off grid” crime).
- Departure Hearing – In certain cases, the sentencing stage may also involve what is known as a “departure” hearing. If the prosecutor’s office or your defense attorney requests a sentence that does not align with the relevant Kansas Sentencing Grid, the judge may hear arguments as to why a departure should (or should not) be granted.
- Appeal and Petition for Post–Conviction Relief – Following a felony conviction, it is important to have an attorney assess your grounds for filing an appeal. Certain types of issues (such as prosecutorial misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel) may provide grounds for seeking post-conviction relief as well.
What Happens After You’ve Been Charged with a Misdemeanor
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, your case will be handled a little bit differently. The major steps involved in misdemeanor cases in Kansas state court are:
- Booking – The booking stage is similar for misdemeanor and felony charges. Once again, you should exercise your right to remain silent and your right to be represented by an attorney, and you should pay careful attention to when (and if) the police read your Miranda
- Arraignment – After booking, you will be scheduled to appear at an arraignment during which you will enter a plea of “guilty” or “not guilty” with respect to each of the charges against you.
- Trial – After your arraignment, your case will be scheduled for trial (unless you plead guilty, in which case you will be sentenced without a trial).
- Sentencing – If you are found guilty at trial, the judge will impose a sentence based on the severity of the charge(s) on which you are convicted. Unlike felonies, the maximum penalties for misdemeanors are determined based on a crime’s classification as either a Class A, Class B or Class C misdemeanor offense.
- Modification Hearing – Once a sentence has been imposed, your defense attorney may be able to file a motion to modify your sentence.
- Appeal and Petition for Post-Conviction Relief – Finally, once all of the trial procedures are complete, you and your legal counsel can assess any grounds you may have to file an appeal or a petition for post-conviction relief.
Schedule an Appointment With Johnson County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jerry Merrill
Have you been charged with a felony or misdemeanor (or both)? We encourage you to contact us promptly to discuss your case. To speak with Johnson County criminal defense attorney Jerry Merrill in confidence, call 913-791-1268 or request a free consultation online now. Jerry represents clients throughout Kansas, including Johnson County, Olathe, Overland Park and Shawnee.