If you’ve been accused of or arrested for a Criminal Charge in Kansas, you need an experienced criminal lawyer to help you through it. Take advantage of our free consultation and make an informed decision about how you want to proceed. You have nothing to lose by calling. I’ll give you some free advice either way. Call now, 888-439-4244.
In Kansas, the route your case takes is determined by the type of crime you are accused of. Misdemeanors and Felonies each have a different process. A criminal defense attorney should be retained as early as possible in order to protect your rights in court, and give you every opportunity to fight the charges or get the best deal possible.
An attorney who knows the Kansas criminal courts and the law can help you make sense of what is going on with your case. I can take the legal mumbo jumbo and translate it in a way that you can understand, and help you relax and focus on what is important in your defense. As an experienced attorney, I am there to look out for your best interests and keep you informed of your rights along the way. Please call me for a consultation on any criminal charge in Kansas.
Both felony and misdemeanor cases begin with an arraignment. The arraignment is where you will be informed of the charges against you and made aware of some of your rights. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, this will be your first opportunity to tell the judge how you plan to plea (guilty, not guilty, no contest). In almost all cases, it makes sense to plead not-guilty until you’ve gone over all your options with your attorney. This leaves all your options open, and prepares you to fight for the best deal possible, argue for a dismissal, or take the case to trial. If you please guilty at a misdemeanor arraignment, the judge may sentence you on the spot.
It is also at the arraignment that the judge may consider releasing you pending trial. Bail is simply an amount of money that a defendant puts up as a promise to return for future court dates. The judge will take into consideration both the severity of your crime and your stability within the community.
Before setting bail, a judge wants to ensure that:
- You are not a risk to the community, and
- You are not a “flight risk” (you will return).
There are a few different release options the judge may consider in your case:
- Own Recognizance– If a judge releases you on your own recognizance (O.R. bond) she is trusting that you will return and not requiring you to put forth any money.
- Cash Bail– A judge may require that you pay the entire bail amount in order to be released.
- Surety Bond– Only a portion of the bail is required in a surety bond. Often times a bail bondsmen will promise the court that they will be responsible for the remainder of the bail if you fail to appear.
The prosecution wants you to either admit to some of the elements of your crime or be found guilty by the court. In the interest of this goal, they will often try to get you to agree to a plea bargain. A plea bargain is where the prosecution agrees to either lower the charges against you or recommend a lenient sentence to the judge in exchange for your guilty plea. Agreeing to a plea bargain is up to you and a good attorney can help you determine if this might be your best option.
There are good plea bargains and bad plea bargains. An experienced Kansas defense attorney like myself can help you decide if you are getting a fair deal in exchange for pleading guilty. Often the threat of taking a case to trial will get a better deal. The majority of cases in Kansas and the United States, end in a plea bargain.
Pre-Trial Misdemeanor Proceedings
Following the arraignment and entering a plea of not guilty or no contest, a pretrial conference may be held between the defense and the prosecution. The pretrial conference will most likely include discussions about plea bargains and pre-trial motions.
Pre-Trial Felony Proceedings
Felony cases are nearly always far more complicated, and may involve a wide variety of different court dates
Preliminary Examination or Hearing
Everyone charged with a felony in Kansas is entitled to a preliminary hearing. This is similar in process to a trial, but the goal is not to determine your guilt or innocence.
The preliminary hearing is a tool used for the judge to determine if sufficient probable cause is present to move your case to trial. Although it is very similar to a trial in procedure, the preliminary hearing may be waived by the defendant.
The decision to waive your preliminary hearing is not to be taken lightly. Speak with an experienced attorney to help you work through the advantages and disadvantages of waiving this hearing.
If the preliminary hearing finds sufficient probable cause, your case will be “bound over” to district court for arraignment.
District Court Arraignment
Similar to the initial appearance, District Court arraignment is the defendants opportunity to enter their plea. This is where you tell the judge whether you are guilty, not guilty, or pleading no contest.
Again, the judge will evaluate your condition and possibly consider bail. Following the arraignment a trial date will be set.
The period of time between arraignment and trial in a felony case can last a long time. Attorneys for both sides may enter motions to continue the case if they need more time to prepare. They may also make evidentiary motions to ask the court to rule on evidence prior to the trial.
At trial the “burden of proof” rests with the prosecution. This means that it is up to the prosecution to show the judge and/or jury that you are guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt”. All your attorney must do then, is create doubt in the minds of the jurors.
Typically, no matter the charges you are facing, your trial will follow a set guideline. There are certain steps that each trial goes through. Some trials may last a few hours, while more complicated cases with serious charges and lots of evidence to go over can go on for weeks. An experienced attorney will help set your expectations about trial.
- Opening Statements: Each side, beginning with the prosecution will have the opportunity to introduce the case at this point, informing the jury what will be proven or disproven in the trial.
- Presentation of Evidence: This stage of the trial can be the longest. It is during the presentation of evidence that the prosecution attempts to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you committed the crime you are charged with. This is where witnesses will be called and questioned by both sides.
The prosecution and defense take turns both in presenting evidence and questioning witnesses. This back and forth can go on indefinitely until both parties are satisfied.
- Closing Arguments: Closing arguments are the last opportunity each side will have to address the jury and judge. This is often where the attorneys really give it their best shot in attempting to sway the jury to their side.
- Judge’s Instructions to the Jury: Before the jury deliberates the case, the judge will instruct them of their legal duties.
- Jury Deliberations: The jury will retire to private chambers to decide your fate. A jury’s decision must be unanimous.
- Verdict: Once the jury has reached a decision, the judge will enter a verdict. If you have been found guilty, the judge may sentence you that day but will most likely set sentencing for a future date.
Sentencing in criminal cases is usually a separate process on a separate day, at least in felony cases. Misdemeanors may be sentenced the same day.
Please call me for a free consultation about any Kansas criminal court date or appearance. I can often do the most in your defense if you call me early in the process. I can appear and arraignments and get a jump on your best defense options. So call me at my Overland Park / Kansas City office at (888) 439-4244.