Out of state clients who face felonies face a whole host of unique problems. Felonies are the most serious of crimes. While misdemeanors can carry a risk of jail, felonies almost certainly will include some type of jail as well as probation if you're convicted. If convicted of a felony, the sentence will be served in a prison, not the county jail.
There are three categories of felonies here in Maine: A, B, and C. With A being the most serious, that includes gross sexual assaults and murder as well as manslaughter. B felonies include aggravated assaults and trafficking in drugs. A C felony is the least serious of the felonies and carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000. C felonies include Reckless Conduct with a Deadly Weapon, Trafficking in Marijuana and Aggravated Furnishing of Drugs.
Now, if you are out of state, and you are charged with a felony here in the state of Maine, you must appear for your initial appearance in person. Regardless of whether or not you retain an attorney, you must appear for all of your court dates. The initial appearance is an opportunity for the judge to read to you the charges the state has levied against you. You will not be pleading guilty or not guilty at that point. It's just an opportunity for the court to apprise you be apprised of the nature of the charge. In addition, the judge will be discussing with the district attorney when they expect to bring your case before grand jury for indictment. In Maine, before a case can move from the an allegation to a complaint, which is a formal charge, the case must be brought to the grand jury.
Assuming you are indicted, the next time you need to appear in the state of Maine will be for your arraignment. The arraignment is your opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. Obviously, if you secured the services of my office, you will not be pleading guilty at the arraignment. At the arraignment you will be entitled to all the discovery in the case, which may include police reports, surveillance videos, cruiser videos, audio wiretaps, witness statements and forensics reports. There are many, many things that comprise discovery. You'll have an opportunity to review your discovery with me so that we can analyze the weaknesses in the state's case and talk about the defense of your case.
There are many more issues to discuss pertaining to felonies and the impact on out-of-state clients. We'll tackle those issues in future blog posts.