If you have been charged with a crime in Kansas, you likely have questions about how the process works in that state and what you can expect from the time of arrest through trial. While the framework is similar across the nation, there are some state-specific differences.
Most people are familiar with what an arrest is—the point when you are taken into police custody under suspicion of a crime. In order to arrest you, an officer must have a warrant, have seen you committing a crime, or have probable cause to suspect that you committed one. At the time of the arrest, the officer must read you the Miranda warning, informing you of your rights, including the right to remain silent. It is usually best to not make any statements or answer any questions until you have an attorney present.
Appearance Before a Magistrate
After an arrest, your first court appearance will be in a magistrate court and should occur without any unnecessary delay. The court may set bail, which would allow you to secure your release if you can deposit a certain amount of money or arrange for a bail bond. In some cases, you may be released on your own recognizance.
Entering a Plea
The phase of a criminal case in which you officially enter your plea is called the arraignment. This happens during the first court appearance for misdemeanor charges. If you are facing felony charges, you enter your plea after the preliminary hearing.
About Plea Bargains
While we often assume all criminal cases go to a jury trial, the vast majority are actually resolved through plea bargaining. Depending on your situation, the prosecution may offer a plea deal. For example, you may plead guilty or no contest to a lesser charge in exchange to a reduced or suspended sentence. Your lawyer can help you decide if a plea arrangement makes sense for you.
Preliminary Court Proceedings
Depending on your case, a preliminary hearing or status conference may be held to determine if there is enough evidence for the matter to go to trial. During this phase, attorneys on each side also have the opportunity to make pre-trial motions.
The Trial Phase
The trial itself is the legal process in which each side presents its case and a verdict is handed down. Felony cases in Kansas are tried before a jury of 12 members. Misdemeanor cases may be tried by a judge, though defendants have the option to request a jury trial; the jury for a misdemeanor case is limited to six members.
A Criminal Lawyer Can Help
Each state has its own procedures for criminal cases. As Kansas criminal lawyers work every day with criminal defendants, they can help you navigate the process and put your best case forward.