Criminal offenses can be divided into two general categories – felonies and misdemeanors.
A felony is a crime for which a person can be imprisoned for more than a year. A misdemeanor is an offense for which a person can be imprisoned for up to a year.
The criminal processes process regarding misdemeanors may differ dramatically from the criminal process as it applies to felonies. The defendant charged with a felony is entitled to greater protections and as such the procedure is regard to a felony case may be considerably more prolonged than that involving a misdemeanor.
It is not at all unusual that for a misdemeanor charge the defendant simply appear in court on one occasion, and after being advised of his or her right to have an attorney, the case is tried on that one occasion.
A felony charge may result, however, in several court appearances – first with a hearing in regard to the setting of bond, then an arraignment, then a preliminary hearing, then an appearance for setting of a trial date, then the appearance for any pretrial motions, and then, finally, the appearance for trial.