COURT PROCESS FOR MISDEMEANORS
Legal Steps for Misdemeanor Charges
- Crime reported
- Victim or witness reports crime, or law enforcement observes crime.
- Law enforcement makes arrest
- Victim meets with prosecutor to file charges
- Prosecutor determines whether there is enough evidence to file charges/to prosecute. A warning letter to the alleged perpetrator could be sent, instead of filing charges. There is also a possibility that the case could be set for mediation. If the offender is charged, a summons or warrant will be issued.
- A summons requires the accused to appear in court. A warrant requires the arrest of the accused. Law enforcement serves warrants and summons.
- Usually within 72 of arrest. Defendant informed of charges; attorney obtained, plea entered, and bond set. If someone fails to appear when summoned, the judge could issue a warrant.
- Possible pleas are:
- Guilty - admits crime was committed
- Not Guilty - denies charges and case continues to next hearing
- No Contest-Defendant does not admit nor deny the charge and lets the Judge determine guilt or innocence based on the facts. Most offenders are found guilty by the court.
- Pre-Trial (Plea Bargaining)
Motions filed and/or plea agreement reached. In a plea bargain the prosecutor allows the defendant to plead guilty to the orginal charge or a reduced or different charges. Reasons to plea bargain for the prosecution include: (1) avoid the time, delay and expense of trial and/or, (2) Lack of evidence to clearly prove the charge. A plea of guilty to a lesser charge insures that the defendant will at least get some criminal record and sentence. The reasons to plea bargain for the defendant is to accept guilt on a lesser charge instead of the possibility of being found guilty on more serious charges, and/or avoid the time and expense of a trial.
Trial by Jury or Judge occurs if no plea agreement is reached. Must be found guilty BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT by every juror or the judge.
- Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI)
These are not always done. Input and opinion of victim(s) considered along with background of offender and facts in the case to determine sentence for specific charge within limits established by law. These investigations are typically done by a probation officer.
The punishment imposed by the court.
- Misdemeanor Degree/ Maximum Penalties
Degree Time in Jail Fine
1st (M1) 6 months $1,000
3rd (M3) 60 days 500
4th (M4) 30 days 250
Minor Misdemeanor(MM) No jail 100
Arraignment 1 week
Pretrial 1-2 weeks
*Victim may testify
Time Within Which Hearing Must Be Held
Trial for minor misdemeanor:
- If offender is out on bail, the trial must be within 15 days
- If offender is incarcerated, the trial must be held within 5 days
- If offender is out on bail, the trial must be within 45 days
- If offender is incarcerated, the trial must be held within 15 days
- If offender is out on bail, the trial must be within 90 days
- If offender is incarcerated, the trial must be held within 30 days