Do all defendants have to go to a trial?
Generally, people who are facing felony charges will have to be present at a trial. People who are facing misdemeanors might be able to waive their right to be present.
How are capital felony offenses handled?
A capital felony offense is one that can result in a prison term of at least life. In this case, the defendant has the right to have the case heard before a jury. In order to be found guilty of the capital felony, all 12 people on a jury have to agree on the person's guilt.
Who else is entitled to a jury trial?
Besides people facing capital felonies, anyone who is facing a charge that could result in time in prison could be entitled to a jury trial. In some cases, the jury might be as few as six people for crimes that aren't classified as capital felonies. People who are only facing petty offenses usually won't be entitled to a jury trial. In all cases, the person who is facing criminal charges has the right to be represented by an attorney.
How are arrests for each classification handled?
Police officers can arrest people who are accused of felony crimes without needing a warrant as long as the officer has probable cause that the person did commit the crime. A warrantless arrest must take place in a public place. In the case of misdemeanors, officers can only make warrantless arrests if the crime is committed in the officer's presence.
Source: FindLaw, "Implications of a Crime's Classification" accessed Mar. 03, 2015