Arrest and Courtroom Trials – As if nothing happens between these two common scenes that we are used to watching on the silver screen. However, the reality is pretty different as the criminal justice system is replete with complexities and only an experienced Perrysburg criminal defense lawyer can clearly explain to you how a criminal case makes its way through the justice system.
In this blog, we will give you a glimpse of how a criminal case starts, progresses, and ends. Some cases are simple and straightforward whereas the rests are full of twists and turns. Consulting a criminal attorney is important to figure out how the general information explained here fits your case.
A criminal case usually starts with an inquiry by an investigation officer from a law enforcement agency such as a country sheriff, local police department, or FBI. An investigation starts as soon as an officer takes notes of what happened that resulted in the breach of the law. The investigation also kicks in if a witness or victim reports a suspected crime.
Officers prepare documents that cover written reports, photographs, and videos and submit all these to the prosecutors.
An arrest is when a law enforcement officer exercises his or her legal rights to put a cap on the suspect’s freedom of movement. The probable cause plays a key role in the arrest procedure. The police can make an arrest only on strength of a probable cause or request a judge for an arrest warrant.
Officers give a summarized account in their reports and submit those along with evidence to the prosecutor who reviews everything and decides whether to file a criminal charge and what it would be like.
Usually within 48 hours of a person’s arrest and being charged with a crime, the defendant is presented before a judge for an initial hearing on the criminal case. These initial hearings, in some states, are also referred to as arraignments. During initial hearings, the defendants are made aware of the legal rights they are entitled to as well as charges brought against them.
It is the process where defendants and prosecutors find out how the opponent is presenting their side of the story. Previously, prosecutors had no legal rights to know about a defendant’s case but now, discovery involves a two-way exchange of information and evidence in order to find out the truth, which saves valuable time of court and safeguards victims and witnesses.
It is the commonest way to resolve a criminal case. A plea bargain refers to an agreement between the two parties to put a criminal case to a graveyard without proceeding to trials. The most common scenario is a defendant’s pleading guilty or no contest to any or many of the charged offenses whereas the prosecutor pledges to reduce or even dismiss the remaining charges or suggests a reduced sentence.
Defendants not pleading ‘GUILTY’ to felony charges have rights to preliminary hearings in most states. Defendants facing the charge of grand jury indictment or misdemeanors are not entitled to initial hearings.
The laws of every state and the Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution guaranty the right to jury trial in most misdemeanor criminal cases and all felony cases.
If the defendant pleads no contest or guilt or is found to have committed the crime by the jury, the person is sentenced.
A defendant is entitled to appeal even after receiving a ‘guilt’ verdict.