The criminal process can become complex if you have no legal background. Knowing the criminal case process is essential to know what to do in such an instant. Understanding the process will keep you in a better position to anticipate the next stage. You can get prepared and contact a criminal lawyer. Here are eight stages you should know about a criminal case process;
- Investigation of a crime by the police
This process starts with the investigating the case. The police gather the evidence to build a case against the suspect. The period it takes depends on the case; some cases take up to a year. They gather evidence from the crime scene and talk to witnesses.
- The arrest of a suspect
Based on the evidence and witnesses, the police can make an arrest. They can arrest by getting an arrest warrant. Moreover, police look for the suspects and make an arrest. The police will take the suspect to the police station for interrogation. At this point, the suspect is informed of their right to stay silent.
- Booking of the suspect
After a suspect is apprehended, they are booked into the police station. The suspect’s fingerprints, pictures, and personal information gets collected during this process. Also, the Miranda warnings include the right to counsel and to remain silent will be given to the suspect.
- Where the defendant is informed of the charges and enters a plea
The suspect will appear before the judge for their arraignment after booking. They will be questioned about her plea. At this point, the charges against them will be read aloud so they can answer them. A date for the trial will get scheduled if the defendant enters a not-guilty plea.
- Pretrial motions, where either side may bring motions to dispose of specific issues before trial
Before the start of a trial, either the prosecution or the defense may file pretrial motions. These motions can be used to suppress evidence. It can also be to dismiss charges or relocate a trial. A judge will hear both parties’ arguments. Using these arguments, they decide on each motion.
- Plea bargaining, where each side negotiates a possible plea
In exchange for a reduced sentence, the defendant may agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge. This stage can occur at any moment before or during a trial. It is commonly known as Plea bargaining. It is a negotiation between the prosecution and defense. The bargain is to resolve a case without going to trial.
- The trial, where the case is presented to a judge or jury
The case will proceed to trial if a plea bargain cannot be reached. The prosecution and defense will present evidence and arguments to a judge or jury during a trial. The prosecution is burdened to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Sentencing, where the defendant is sentenced if found guilty
A judge will sentence the offender if they are proven guilty. Fines, probation, community service, or jail may all be imposed. The nature of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history, and other variables will all influence the severity of the sentence.
The criminal case process is complicated and often confusing. It’s essential to understand each stage of the process so that you can make informed decisions about your case. If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, it’s essential to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help guide you through the process and protect your rights.