TheLegal Process in the United States: A Criminal Case in 2022

What is a criminal case and how does it proceed through the legal system? This summary is an overview of criminal cases. It covers the key steps and briefly explains what can happen in court.

Please be aware that this summary is not a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney.

The basics

There are basically three types of court proceedings: civil, criminal and administrative.

if so Prosecutor A criminal case is filed against an individual, this is called a criminal case or criminal process.

Here are the general levels of criminal law – the terms and definitions of the terms follow in the sections below:

  1. A criminal investigation has been initiated by law enforcement.
  2. of Accused He can be arrested or summoned to court and charged with a misdemeanor or misdemeanor.
  3. In the beginning Hearing, a copy of the charge is given to the defendant, and the charge can be read to the defendant in open court. as if Preparation Trial (can be on the same day) the accused is guilty or not guilty or can ask. Continuity.
  4. The prosecutor provides Discovery.
  5. Activities May be served before trial.
  6. Jurors are selected.
  7. The trial will take place.
  8. At any time before the judgment is rendered, the parties may refer to a Plea agreement.
  9. Judgment is given by a judge or jury.
  10. If the accused is found guilty, sentencing will take place.
  11. If found guilty, the accused may. Appeal.

Below is the list of steps.

A criminal investigation has been initiated by law enforcement.
Law enforcement includes, but is not limited to, police officers, sheriffs, prosecutors, and animal control officers. They will interview any victims and witnesses and possibly anyone of interest. If necessary, they will assess the crime scene and record it. They can execute search warrants, take photographs, prepare veterinary tests, and collect and analyze trace and scientific data such as DNA.

If a person of interest is interviewed, this is the time to be advised that the person has a constitutional right to a lawyer and anything they do or say can be brought before a court.

if so A possible reason If a crime or crimes are found to have been committed, the accused may be arrested or summoned to court.

If someone is caught, they will be taken to jail and sent to prison. In most cases, the prosecutor or law enforcement officer decides on the charges. In addition, depending on Authoritycan also be prosecuted by a grand jury.

Each state has a criminal code that governs the arrest and prosecution process. There is also federal criminal law if an individual is being investigated or arrested for a federal crime. If someone is arrested, the authorities have a very short time (usually no more than three days) to file charges in court.

If the defendant is issued a summons to appear in court at a later date, the authorities have more time. A surety bond is established when a lawsuit is filed, and if the defendant is summoned to court, they are not required to post bail. The accused a Criminal or a Misdemeanor And the lawsuits can be federal, state, or municipal.

At the first hearing, the accused will be given a copy of the charges, which can be read to the accused in open court.

At the arraignment (the initial hearing may be on the same day), the defendant may plead guilty or not guilty or request a continuance. If the defendant is innocent and cannot afford a lawyer, the court may appoint a lawyer at no cost to the defendant.

In some cases, and depending on the jurisdiction, a defendant may not be eligible for a court-appointed attorney – for example, if they are only charged with a municipal crime. The defendant can always choose to appear. Pro se – That is, he or she can decide to represent themselves and act as their own lawyer.

At these hearings, the defense attorney or the defendant may argue that the defendant be given a personal recognizance bond or that the court lower the bond amount. After entering a plea of ​​not guilty, a speedy trial will begin and a trial date will be set. In most criminal cases, a trial must begin six months after the date of the not guilty plea.

The prosecutor presents “discovery”.
“Discovery” is the sharing of information, documents and evidence related to the case. This should be done before the test. There are state, federal, and municipal criminal laws that govern discovery.

Defendants They have the right to receive copies of all police reports in criminal cases; victim and witness statements; All statements to the character of the accused; criminal history reports of witnesses and the accused; and scientific and expert reports. Contact information should be provided to victims and witnesses. The defense may examine evidence that the government plans to present at trial. Above all, the accused must present evidence to prove their innocence.

Generally, in criminal cases, the prosecutor is not entitled to cross-examination of the defense. However, if a case is set for trial, in most jurisdictions the prosecutor is entitled to “reverse” discovery from the defendant. This may include information about defensive behavior; Contact information for witnesses or experts the defense intends to call at trial and any written reports prepared by their experts. The defense does not have to state whether the accused will testify on their own behalf. Oftentimes, the prosecutor only checks whether the defendant will testify when the defendant presents evidence at trial.

Motions may be filed before trial.
Pretrial motions can be filed by either the defense or the prosecution, and usually include legal issues that one side or the other wants resolved before going to trial. Some common pleas in criminal cases include:

A pretrial hearing is held before a trial and usually involves the deposition of witnesses and the deposition of evidence.

if so Motion to dismiss The case is given by the judge, the trial will not take place. But in some cases, the prosecutor may amend the charges in the future if within theLimitation of capacity.” Typically, a criminal charge must be filed within three years of the date of the crime, with the crime being punishable within one year to 18 months (this period can vary by jurisdiction).

The prosecutor can appeal an order to dismiss a case or suppress evidence.

Jurors are selected.
Defendants have a constitutional right to a jury trial in all criminal cases. There may be an exception for low-level offenses where there is no potential for any jail time.

If the defendant elects to be tried by jury rather than by jury, jury selection will be conducted before any witnesses are sworn. The jury for serious crimes consists of a total of 12 members. The pool of jurors usually comes from lists maintained by government agencies such as registered voters, licensed drivers, and ID renewals.

Potential jurors are called at random into the jury box for the trial. Then the lawyers of both sides “”voir dire” prospective members, which means asking judges questions to determine whether they can be fair and impartial to both parties.

Some jurors are removed during voir dire. They can argue “for cause” – that is, there is a legally recognized reason; Or, each party may exercise a limited number of “peremptory challenges” and need not state reasons. This process ends when the prosecution and the defense meet or waive the remaining challenges. Typically, the court allows alternate jurors to be sentenced. The substitute is called to discuss only when something unexpected happens to the sitting umpire.

The trial will take place.
After discovery, the parties and the court prepare to present witnesses and present and receive evidence. This is part of the story that most people are familiar with on social and mainstream media.

The hearing will be held in a courtroom open to the public. The prosecutor and defense attorney (or the defendant if they are representing themselves) may present opening statements to the jury. This is an opportunity for the jury to preview testimony and evidence. In some jurisdictions, defendants may choose to present their opening statements after the prosecution has “rested” — meaning the prosecution has finished presenting its case.

Throughout the trial, the prosecutor has the burden of proving the case beyond doubt. The definition is “reasonable doubt” It varies depending on the situation. This burden is the same for all crimes – from running a red light, from animal cruelty to murder.

The prosecution presented the case by calling witnesses and presenting evidence. All witnesses will be cross-examined by the defense. When the prosecution is finished, the accused can call witnesses and present evidence. This is completely optional. Since the defense has no burden, they may decide to avoid calling witnesses.

A defendant has a constitutional right to choose not to testify. If the jurors choose not to testify, the director is instructed that the choice not to testify may not be used against them when the jurors decide. All defense witnesses (including the accused if testifying) shall be…

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