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What is a Felony Arrest?

By Christy Bieber
Updated May 16, 2024
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A felony arrest occurs when a person is arrested after being arraigned for a felony. A felony is a more serious crime than a misdemeanor, and carries with it potentially more serious criminal sanctions or penalties. An arrest involves being taken into police custody following the commission of the felony.

The specific definition of a felony differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For example, in some states it is a felony to threaten to hit someone with a stick, while in other states, threatening someone with a stick is only a misdemeanor. Felonies relate to the seriousness of the crime, and many actions can be either a felony or a misdemeanor depending specifically on the level of misbehavior the accused exhibits.

When a criminal commits a felony, there are more serious potential criminal sanctions. Typically, in most jurisdictions felonies are crimes in which the accused faces the potential for two or more years in prison as a result of the crime. This is distinct from a misdemeanor, which is a crime in which the maximum penalty is less than two years of prison time.

When a criminal undergoes a felony arrest, that means that the crime he was accused of committing, which led to the arrest, was considered a felony. The arrest process for either a felony and a misdemeanor is generally the same, however when an accused is arrested under felony arrest, bail may be higher since there is a greater potential that the criminal will try to run due to the possible increased penalties he faces for the felony versus the misdemeanor.

When a person is arrested for any crime, that means that an indictment has occurred and/or that an arrest warrant has been issued. An indictment is a legal proceeding in which a prosecutor convinces a judge or a jury that there is probable cause to try someone for a crime. The accused may not even be aware that an arraignment is occurring until after he is arrested, as he does not have the opportunity to defend himself until after he are arrested. In some jurisdictions, no formal indictment hearing is needed, and a sworn statement of probable cause is simply submitted to the judge who issues the arrest warrant.

If the judge or jury feels that there is probable cause that a party committed a felony, then a felony arrest warrant is issued and the criminal faces felony arrest. The police come and handcuff the criminal, arrest him, and take him to the local jail for booking. There, he will be fingerprinted and placed in a cell to await indictment.

When a person is indicted, he has the opportunity to comment on the charges at an arraignment. If there is still sufficient evidence, bail is set. Bail is usually higher for a felony arrest than for a misdemeanor, so the accused may need to have a bail bondsman in order to pay the bail.

After bail is paid, the accused is released until the trial at which point he will be tried for a felony, and face the penalties if found guilty. If someone cannot afford bail or bail is not granted, he will remain in jail until the trial. The trial will be a felony trial, and the prosecutor must prove that the accused committed a crime serious enough to be classified as a felony.

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