Pursuant to Louisiana law, a felony is defined as any crime for which the punishment may be death or imprisonment at hard labor. Under the recently-amended court rules, at the time of the filing of a bill of information or indictment, felony cases are randomly allotted to one of the seven divisions of 14th Judicial District Court which handle criminal cases. The only exception to this rule is that, if there is a felony case currently assigned to a division of court, any new felony would follow it to that division, or follow any felony probation violation that may be filed. Capital, or death penalty cases, are also randomly allotted, but there is no following a previously allotted felony, nor do subsequent felonies follow a capital case. Once allotted, the case remains with that division, through pre-trial motions, until disposition, unless some conflict develops.
In order to address the changes in court rules, the Felony Section of the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office was completely revamped. One felony Assistant District Attorney is assigned to each division of court, and that ADA handles all felonies that come into that division. Each ADA is assigned an investigator and secretary to assist with the work necessary in preparing the case for court, including answering pre-trial motions, subpoenaing and hearing pre-trial motions, subpoenaing and preparing for trial, as well as pre-trial conferences with law enforcement and victims and witnesses. ADAs meet with all registered crime victims to discuss the case with them and to learn their feelings as to how they would like the case resolved.
Currently, each division has seven petit jury weeks scheduled which are devoted to the trial of felony cases. Each ADA must file a pre-trial priority list in which he/she designates the order in which the cases will be called to trial, so that the defense attorneys know where they stand. After discussions with victims and families, plea offers may be extended to defendants and, if accepted, guilty pleas are tendered. The trial judge is free to accept or reject the recommendation, and, if rejected, the judge will impose the sentence that the trial court determines to be appropriate and just. Appeals of convictions and/or sentences are handled by the Appellate Division.
In addition, the Felony Division contains three specialized prosecution sections, Domestic Violence Severe Child Abuse, and Adult Sex Crimes.