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Felony cases could be streamlined in the future

When the process that is used in the modern era for felony cases was originally designed, the world was quite a bit different. Rather than having grand juries as needed, they were used just twice each year. Rather than riding in a car to court, the judge may have arrived on horseback or in a wagon.

Noting that updates are needed, some are asking for the process to be streamlined. They argue that this would make things faster, with expedited results, and that it could also save money.

On the other side, though, those who are against the changes say that the process works like it is now. They argue that streamlining things would take away certain probable cause hearings, which could make things harder for those who want to defend themselves.

Part of the change would take the felony cases right out of the district courts. As things work now, the cases start at the district level before they are able to proceed onward to the superior courts. This can stall things out for anywhere between two and five months. By starting in the superior court instead, cases would skip this stall and be processed more quickly.

However, the bill -- which already passed the Senate -- wouldn't get rid of all probable cause hearings. Instead, it would make it so that they were not mandatory but could still be used at a judge's request.

Changes like this can have a drastic impact on the process if you've been charged with a felony. Be sure to keep an eye on this bill to see if it is signed into law.

Source:, "Judicial branch wants to streamline felony process," Lynne Tuohy, Associated Press, April. 20, 2015

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