Steps in the Criminal Process

Posted November 24th, 2012 by admin and filed in Uncategorized

Although the steps in the criminal process do vary from state to state and the federal system, there is a general procedure through which crimes are investigated and judged. There are several game-players in the criminal process, each playing an important role. Of course, the criminal process always starts with the suspicion of a crime by the authorities.

The Steps in the Criminal Process

Step #1: The police investigate the crime. In order to do so, they interview potential witnesses, collect evidence from the crime scene and compare the crime in question to similar incidents. An arrest will be made of probable suspects and they will be taken into custody.

Step #2: A higher ranking police officer or prosecutor must decide whether to formally charge the suspect with a crime and to determine which crime in particular. Once formally charged with a crime the arrestee becomes a defendant. The playing field moves from the police station to the court room.

Step #3: The defendant makes an initial appearance before a low-level magistrate. The defendant will be informed of the charges against him and his basic rights. The judge will also set bail.

Step #4: In a felony case, the next step is a preliminary hearing. A grand jury is called to give further review of felony charges. For misdemeanors, a preliminary hearing isn’t necessary.

Step #5: If the grand jury has indicted the defendant, the indictment is filed with the court. If the grand jury is never called, the prosecutor files a document known as an “information.”

Step #6: The arraignment takes place where the defendant must plead either guilty or not guilty. A plea bargaining may enter the picture at this stage.

Step #7: A defendant who pleads not guilty heads to trial. The defense attorney may make a series of procedural or substantive motions to the court.

Step #8: The trial. The defendant has a right to a jury in felonies and serious misdemeanors. If convicted, the judge or jury will determine the sentence.

Step #9: The defendant may choose to appeal.

Leave a Reply