Smith & Parnell
LLC aggressively represent the victims of wrongful death,
automobile accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home
abuse, product liability, and more.
firm concentrates on a wide variety of cases. We handle
DWI * Misdemeanors * Felonies * Drug Charges * Assault
* Homicide * Traffic * Minor in Possession
When criminal charges are brought
against an individual it is often an intimidating and
stressful experience. Generally, one can expect the
following to occur during the pendency of the litigation:
Step One: Arraignment
Once an attorney is retained, arraignments
for felony cases take place in open court, while arraignments
for misdemeanor cases are handled out of Court. The defendant
has the opportunity to have the charges read against
him and can plead either guilty or not guilty with certain
Step Two: Preliminary Hearing
When a person is charged with a felony
offense he may have a preliminary hearing which will
be held before an associate judge of the circuit court.
The defendant may present evidence on his own behalf
and may cross-examine witnesses against him. The judge
must decide if there is probable cause to believe that
the felony was committed and whether there is probable
cause to believe that the defendant committed the felony.
If the judge finds probable cause, or if the defendant
waives the preliminary hearing, he will be "bound" over
for trial. If from the evidence the judge does not find
probable cause he must discharge the defendant.
As opposed to a preliminary hearing,
a prosecutor may seek a grand jury indictment in which
a grand jury determines whether probable cause exists
to proceed against the defendant in circuit court.
Step Three: Discovery
Discovery is the right of the defense
to obtain access to evidence necessary to prepare its
own case. This process “officially” begins after arraignment
for misdemeanor charges and after the preliminary hearing
for felony charges.
Step Four: Plea or Trial
If a defendant chooses, he may plead
guilty as opposed to proceeding towards trial. Often,
a defendant may opt to engage in such a plea if he is
concerned that if he takes his case to trial he could
be found guilty and receive a harsher sentence than what
is being offered by the State.
If a defendant opts for trial, evidence
is presented in front of a Judge and/or jury. If the
State cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the
Defendant is guilty as charged then he is acquitted.
If the State has met its burden, however, than the Defendant
will be sentenced accordingly.
Time Period: Depending on the complexity of the case
will determine the length of time to litigate. Very serious
felonies may take over a year to resolve. Most felonies
take 3 to 6 months to complete. Misdemeanors take 2 to
4 months to resolve.
Our firm concentrates on a wide variety of cases.
We handle the following:
Family law cases generally can be emotionally difficult
in that they usually involve severed relationships and
usually battles over child custody. Generally, one can
expect the following to occur during the pendency of
Step One: Filing of Petition
Generally all family law cases start with one party filing
a petition. Once the other party is served with a copy,
the other party has thirty (30) days to respond or file
an answer. Along with the answer, the responding party
may also file a counter-petition.
Step Two: Documents Filed
In a divorce or modification proceeding, the parties
have fourteen (14) days after filing of their respective
petitions to file Property and Income and Expense Statements
with the Court. When children are involved the parties
have to attend a parenting course entitled “Focus on
Kids” and submit a Form 14 form along with a Parenting
Plan to the Court. Generally, if the Property and Income
and Expense Statements are not filed timely with the
Court, the offending party will have his pleadings stricken.
Mediation is now required in all divorce cases.
Step Three: Discovery
Discovery is the right of the parties to obtain access
to evidence necessary to prepare their cases. Discovery
can take many forms including Interrogatories, Requests
for Production of Documents, and Depositions. This process
“officially” begins after both parties have filed their
Step Four: Settlement or Trial
In a divorce proceeding, the parties may begin the process
with the matter already resolved. This is termed an uncontested
dissolution. After the Respondent is served with a copy
of the Petition, the parties have a 30 day waiting or
“cooling off” period until the divorce can be finalized.
If there are no children involved and both parties are
in agreement, the divorce can take place out of Court
with one or more of the attorneys submitting the necessary
documentation to the Court.
In a contested case, if the parties reach a resolution
at any time during the litigation, even after discovery
has begun, the parties can present their settlement to
the Court for its approval.
If however, the parties cannot reach an agreement,
a bench trial is held in front of circuit court judge
who determines all the contested issues in the case.
Family law cases do not involve juries.
Time Period: Depending on the number of contested issues
and cooperation level of the parties will determine the
length of time to litigate. If there are many contested
issues in a case and the parties have difficulty resolving
said issues, the case could take up to a year to resolve.
However, if the parties are cooperative and there are
few contested issues, the case could take from 1-3 months
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