Criminal prosecution doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it requires a series of events that conclude whether a defendant is guilty or not. So, if you are facing criminal charges and want to know how the process takes off, this ultimate guide is for you.
Before we discuss the court hearings and conviction process, you must ensure you have hired the best criminal lawyers to make up your defense team. Whether or not you will be found guilty in court depends greatly on how good of a criminal attorney you have.
So, always hire an experienced and expert criminal defense attorney because they have the power to either make or break your case.
The process of criminal prosecution requires following different procedures. The entire process occurs step by step. However, if the defendant pleads guilty before the trial starts, the case is terminated, and the accused party faces a lenient sentence.
Different Stages of a Criminal Case
Dealing with the process of a criminal case can seem very intimidating. Not everyone has experience with the justice system, and you have no idea what theory will or won’t work in your favor. So, hiring the best criminal lawyers can help you take on the process with an expert’s help.
Moreover, an expert criminal defense lawyer will know the its-and-bits of criminal proceedings, and they will help you attain the best possible outcomes.
Let’s discuss the different stages of criminal cases and how they proceed.
Before the police can arrest and charge you for a crime, they must have probable cause to issue an arrest warrant from the district attorney. Then, investigators from the local police department or a federal bureau may employ several procedures to find probable cause, including search warrants, property seizure, and interrogation.
Once they find probable cause, the investigation team will file the charges against you. Most people make the mistake of hiring an attorney after getting arrested, but when you feel you might be in trouble, that is the right time to contact a defense attorney.
Once the police have found probable cause and the arrest warrant has been issued, you will be arrested and taken to a local police station. You will be made aware of your rights as they take your fingerprints and photo and record the charges against you.
During your time at the prison, you are encouraged to talk to the police with your lawyer.
- Bail & Arraignment
Your first appearance in court is known as arraignment when formal charges are filed against the defendant. This hearing takes place as quickly as possible, and the defendant must appear with an attorney before a judge.
This is also when bail is set for a given amount of money. This will allow the defendant to go home during the trial proceedings.
- Pretrial Motions
Pretrial motions begin after the defendant appears in court. During these motions, the prosecution and defense discuss the criminal case’s strengths and weaknesses. This is also when the defendant has to decide if they’d like to go to trial knowing the solidity of their case or if they’d like to plead guilty.
If the defendant decides to plead guilty, the case is terminated, and the convict has to undergo a relatively lenient serving time, according to the deal their attorney made.
The case goes to trial if the defendant doesn’t take the plea bargain. During the trial, the prosecution has to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to a bench of jury members.
The jury goes through every tiny element of the case and assesses witnesses and evidence before giving a final verdict. If you’re wondering what the order of trial proceedings is, it’s mentioned below.
- Selection of jury members
- Prosecution’s case
- Defendant’s case
- Closing arguments
The court allows both parties to present their case throughout several hearings. Once both parties have made their case and given closing arguments, the judge or jury takes everything that was presented into consideration before giving a verdict.
After the trial proceedings end, it is time for the jury to present its verdict. This requires the jury to make a final decision on whether they believe the defendant is guilty or not. Sometimes, the jury can come to a verdict within seconds, while others may take weeks to deliberate all the evidence provided in court.
Once the verdict is reached, it is read to the defendant in court. Furthermore, the jury must come to a unanimous decision. If the bench cannot decide whether the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the case is declared a mistrial, and the prosecution is free to try again.
Also, if a mistrial is declared in the court, neither the judge nor the prosecutor can overturn this decision, and the defendant is cleared of all charges. However, if the defendant is found guilty, the case moves to the next step.
If the jury has convicted the defendant, the next step requires the convict to receive their sentencing for the crime they committed.
The sentencing is the most complex part of the entire criminal justice system. The judge gives sentencing based on the severity of the crime, the convict’s past record, level of regret, etc.
If the defendant is found guilty, they can appeal the verdict to the appellate court in the next step. If the higher court finds the trial unjust or the defense attorney prevents loopholes in the procedures, the higher court can overturn the ruling.
So, this is how the process begins after criminal charges are filed in court. Criminal cases are intimidating and very complex, so it is recommended that you have support on your side in the form of an expert defense lawyer.
Experienced defense lawyers can not only overturn the case in pretrial motions but also know how to find loopholes or present your case so that it is dismissed entirely.
Thus, getting in touch with a defense lawyer before being arrested would be better. It will impact your case positively, and you have better chances of walking out of this whole thing while keeping your reputation intact. We hope this helps. Thank you for reading.
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