criminal court records

Felony Cases

For more serious or violent crimes, the criminal charges are referred to as felonies (some types of crimes can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors, and are referred to as "wobblers").

Punishment for a felony may be serving a year or more in state prison if the defendant is convicted.

After a person has been charged with a felony they will be arraigned before a superior court judge.

At the arraignment a judge will read the charges to the defendant, who will be apprised of his/her rights, such as to legal counsel, and asked to enter a plea. A judge may also hear a request from the defendant for a reduction in the amount of bail on which they are being held.

In California, after a person is arraigned on a felony charge, the person must be brought to trial within 60 days (although it is common for the defendant's attorney to request or agree to delays).

The court record in a felony case thus will include the filing of the original charge against a defendant by the district attorney's office, a record of what occurred at the arraignment, and after that various motions filed in the case by the defense attorney and prosecutor.

A felony case also will include a transcript of a preliminary hearing, which is another step in a felony case (see the next section on preliminary hearings).