A felony is the most serious classification of crime with which a person can be charged under California’s Penal Code. Generally, a felony conviction carries with it a sentence of more than a year in jail or prison. Even if a person avoids a long jail sentence following a first felony conviction, any subsequent felony arrests and convictions are punished more severely under California’s Three Strikes Sentencing Law. California also recognizes capital punishment, and the most serious offenses may result in a death sentence for the accused.
The following articles in this series will present an overview of the felony arrest process in California. This brief overview contains general information about the steps that your case may take following a felony arrest. To discuss the circumstances surrounding your felony arrest, contact San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney David Boertje to obtain legal representation.
Step One: Pre-Arrest Investigation
The legal community considers felonies the most serious type of crime. Felonies are classified as violent or non-violent and involve unlawful conduct that leads to the death or serious injury of another person or damage to property. Examples of felony crimes are murder, rape, robbery, burglary, and arson. The crimes of poisoning, murdering police, witnesses, or prosecutors, or killing someone while committing a felony are eligible for capital punishment.
Some crimes come to the attention of law enforcement during a pre-arrest stage. Law enforcement officials conduct a pre-arrest investigation and contact the suspect for questioning. At the point of initial contact, no arrest has been made and no formal charges have been filed with the criminal courts against the person. In California, felony cases are heard in the Superior Court. Lower courts transfer cases to the Superior Court if misdemeanor charges are later upgraded to a felony charge.
During the pre-arrest investigation stage, police officers or detectives may seek a search warrant. A search warrant permits the police to search a suspect’s home, business, or personal property for evidence in support of their investigation. If you consent to a search of your person or property, the police do not need a search warrant to search you because your consent means you have given the police permission to search you or your property. Absent express consent from you, the police officers must first obtain a search warrant before they can search your home, business, or property. Continue reading