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A first appearance is a hearing in which the defendant is informed of the charges filed against him/her. A lawyer may be appointed if the defendant cannot afford to hire an attorney. If the charges filed are misdemeanors, the case will usually be set for arraignment. If the charges are felonies, the case is set for a preliminary hearing.
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If a person is arrested on probable cause for felony offenses the case is sent to us. If a person is arrested on probable cause by the Geary County Sheriff’s Department or the Kansas Highway Patrol, the case will be sent here for prosecution whether it is a felony or misdemeanor offense. Many times a report is taken by law enforcement and sent to our office for review. The prosecutor assigned to review the case determines whether or not charges will be filed, and warrants issued.
If a suspect is booked into the Geary County Detention Facility on felony charges he/she is entitled to a bond hearing within 48 hours of his/her arrest. If the suspect is booked in on misdemeanor charges a bond schedule is used. The Court may set a bond that is either cash or surety. It may be a condition of bond that the defendant has no contact with the victim. If the defendant bonds out of jail he is then set for a first appearance.
In felony cases, the purpose of a preliminary hearing is for a district magistrate judge to determine if there is sufficient evidence to believe that probable cause exists that the defendant committed a felony offense. Subpoenas will be issued for the victim/witnesses involved in the incident. The court will determine if a defendant will be bound over on the felony charges alleged by the state.
If a defendant is bound over on felony charges the case will be set before a district court judge for an arraignment. The purpose of an arraignment is to take the defendant’s plea and to set a date for trial. No victims or witnesses are required to appear at an arraignment.
The district magistrate judge will ask the defendant to enter a plea on this date. If the defendant enters a plea of not guilty it will then be set for bench trial or trial to the court before the district magistrate judge. No victims or witnesses are required to appear at an arraignment. In some cases, a defendant in a misdemeanor case may request a jury trial.
The State of Kansas must begin by selecting a jury. After a jury has been impaneled, the State must present evidence. The defense may also choose to present evidence.
Once both sides have rested, the jury is instructed on the law that applies to each charge alleged. Both parties are given the opportunity to give their closing arguments. The case is then submitted to the Jury and it is up to the jurors to render a verdict.
A subpoena is a court order directing a person to appear at a particular date and time. A person must appear in court or risk being held in contempt of court. Any employer should not discharge, punish or threaten a person for attending a court proceeding when they have been served with a subpoena.
If a person is experiencing difficulties with an employer regarding a court appearance or has any other questions, they need to contact the victim-witness coordinator immediately. A witness is entitled to receive a $10 per day witness fee plus mileage if they are traveling from out of the area.
Property taken as evidence in a case, under usual circumstances, can be released back to the person from whom it was taken. A property release must be prepared and signed by a Judge prior to law enforcement releasing any property.