Mary-Margaret Bierbaum, Attorney at Law

Criminal Info

when charged with a Felony

A felony charge is a serious matter, far more serious than a misdemeanor. A person convicted of a felony can be sentenced to state prison or county jail. In California, the Three Strikes Law makes violent and/or serious felony charges even more egregious. Repeat offenders with certain felony charges face harsher sentences. A person with a prior serious or violent felony conviction facing sentencing for a second strike may receive a double prison sentence.

Non violent Felony charges include:

  • Felony DUI, Felony Hit and Run
  • Burglary
  • Receiving Stolen Property, Theft, Forgery
  • Vehicular Manslaughter
  • Drug Possession and/or Transportation

Serious Felony charges include:

  • Mayhem
  • Assault with Attempt to Commit Rape
  • Assault with Attempt to Commit Robbery
  • Assault with a Deadly Weapon on a Peace Officer
  • Kidnapping
  • Selling, Offering or Furnishing Drugs to Minor

Violent Felony charges include:

  • Statutory Rape, Sodomy, Oral Copulation
  • Lewd or Lascivious Act on a Child under 14 years of age
  • Manslaughter

If you or someone you know has been charged with a felony, do not delay in contacting the Law Offices of Mary-Margaret Bierbaum for a consultation. With 30 years experience, Ms. Bierbaum can provide the legal assistance you need, protect your rights, and make sure you are not alone in navigating the court system. In some instances she can assist with pre-filing discussions and reducing the felony to a misdemeanor charge.

First Day in Court

Your first felony court appearance is an arraignment. At this felony hearing you will be notified of the charges against you and your constitutional rights. This will be your first opportunity to enter a plea of guilty, no contest or not guilty to the felony charges against you. It is never recommended that a person plead guilty or no contest at the felony arraignment without having spoken to a competent criminal defense attorney first. You may have a defense(s) to the felony charges against you without even knowing it! Don't ruin your chances at a better deal or a complete dismissal by pleading guilty. A plea of guilty is usually not reversible, but a plea of not guilty can be later changed when you have more information about your felony case.

After entering your plea (of not guilty, remember!) at the felony hearing, dates will be set for your next hearings. For felonies, the next two court hearings are a Preliminary Hearing with a Confirmation of Preliminary Hearing (CPX) several days before that. Though you have a right to Preliminary hearing within 10 court days, generally a Preliminary Hearing is set two to four weeks out.

The felony arraignment is also the time to request bail, a bail reduction, or an OR (own Recognizance) release if you or your loved one is in custody. If an OR (own Recognizance) or bail reduction is not granted on the arraignment date, a bail review hearing can be set.

Bail Review

In determining whether or not to reduce bail, the courts look at several different factors:

  • Are you a flight risk? Is there reason to believe that you will leave and fail to appear in court in the future?
  • Are you a danger? Is the crime you allegedly committed a violent crime? Do you have priors for violent crimes, and are there other reasons to believe that you are a danger to the community if released?
  • Do you have ties to the community? Do you have family and friends in the area, a job, are you enrolled in school, how long have you lived in or around the county, etc. ?
  • How serious is the present offense? Is it a felony or misdemeanor, does it involve violence, or the taking of a large amount of money or property? All of these factors are taken into consideration.

The Court will consider these factors and others in deciding whether to reduce your bail. If a reduction is granted that does not mean that no bail will be required, usually this is exactly what it says - only a reduction. Bail may be posted by cash or check with the court or a bond may be purchased from a bondsperson, usually at about 10% of the amount of bail.

Preliminary Hearing

A preliminary hearing can be described as a mini court trial where the district attorney puts on minimum evidence. A Preliminary hearing is not as lengthy or detailed as a regular felony trial and this is because the standard of evidence that needs to be met is much lower. There is no jury at a Preliminary hearing and it is the prosecution's job to convince the Judge that probable cause exists to believe that a felony crime has been committed and that the defendant committed it. In other words, the Judge must find that there is enough evidence to "hold the defendant to answer" to the Superior court.

Technically, a Preliminary hearing must be held within 10 days of the felony arraignment; however, often clients are asked to waive the 10 day speedy time requirement so that the hearing can be held at a later date. This additional time will often allow your criminal defense attorney to gather more information and evidence to be used to challenge the prosecution's case.

A preliminary hearing will often reveal some of the weaknesses in the prosecution's case causing the district attorney to amend the complaint at the next arraignment. If a client is held to answer after the Preliminary hearing, an additional date is set for arraignment on the Information (complaint) in the Superior Court.

Felony Jury Trial

If your felony case was not settled or dismissed in one of the earlier hearings, then it will often proceed to jury trial. This is the sort of thing that people see in the movies; where there is a jury of 12 peers, a judge, and witnesses are put on the stand and questioned by the district attorney and then the criminal defense attorney. Having an experienced & competent criminal trial lawyer is extremely important in ensuring that you obtain the best possible legal representation. Call us at (831) 462-6099 to discuss your case and the possible defenses you may have.


This web page is not intended to provide legal advice. Please be aware that statutes and the courts' interpretation of them change over time.

An attorney-client relationship cannot be established with Mary-Margaret Bierbaum simply by reading this website; that can be done only by contacting Ms. Bierbaum and by mutually agreeing on such a relationship. You may use email to contact Ms. Bierbaum or her assistants, but do not email any confidential material or information before an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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