The Criminal Process
Having an attorney you can trust can make all difference when going through the criminal process. Our attorneys at Mazraani and Liguori, LLP can help you maneuver through the legal system and represent you through it.
This step is relatively short and depends only on the criminal/defendant. In order for the CJ process to begin a violation must first occur. This can be anything from a simple shoplifting to murder. If you commit the crime it's pretty much guaranteed that you will be caught up in the CJ system.
This step can be either very lengthy or an "open and closed" situation, depending on the crime itself. In this step authority officials are called in and they investigate the crime. This involves examining the scene of the crime. A crime scene can provide crucial evidence such as DNA and fingerprints. Also you may find things such as a murder weapon (in murder cases only of course), and, if there is a victim, how they were killed. Along with that the investigation is then taken off the crime scene and into the community where the authorities then find witnesses and other people who may provide important information about the perpetrator. For example this would entail contacting friends and family of a suspect (if there should be one at this point) and getting information, which may place the suspect at the crime scene or show that he/she had a motive to commit the crime. Not only that but the investigation can include searches and seizures. For example, the authorities may find probable cause that a person is the perpetrator, and then search his/home home for evidence. Of course if someone is going to search the property of another, they need a warrant. Eventually the investigation will lead to the next step in the CJ process.
The arrest is a relatively brief step if all goes well. The only thing that is done is that the proper authorities take a suspect into custody. The only way they can do this is if they provide enough incriminating evidence to show that you probably committed the crime. Alson with that an arrest made in the wrong may cause a case to be thrown out. What needs to be done is the official making the arrest must read the arrestee his/her rights. This is known as reading someone's Miranda Rights. The rights are as follows:
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.
In some departments in the states of Indiana, New Jersey, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Alaska another sentence was added to the reading:
We have no way of giving you a lawyer, but one will be appointed for you, if you wish, if and when you go to court.
After the arrest is made the suspect is then taken into police custody, which is where the next step occurs.
The process of booking is very simple and is a way of putting the defendant/suspect into a database. This way if he/she ever commits a crime again, the police will have information already in their database, which may help them find the criminal again. Booking generally includes taking fingerprints, pictures, and personal information of the suspect.
The initial appearance is also known as the bail hearing. Basically what happens is the defendant appears in court, some facts of the case is heard, and the judge sets a bail which he/she sees fit. Typically the more severe the crime the higher the bail.
Types of Bail
- Secured Bail--requires real money or property.
- Unsecured--If you don't show up to court, then your money/property which was used for bail is kept and not returned to you.
First of all, a preliminary hearing must occur within two days of the arrest. Secondly the hearing is used to determine if there is enough probable cause against you to prosecute. The CJ process may stop here or continue on, depending on how much probable cause if found that you committed the crime.
Grand Jury Indictment
A Grand Jury Indictment hearing is very similar to the preliminary hearing and the actual trial itself. During this hearing a group of 24 people serve as the grand jury. What they are trying to do is discover if there is enough evidence to prosecute. They do not determine your guilt, but if they find enough evidence against you then you're probably going to trial to determine just that.
An arraignment is your first formal notification of the charges against you.
A trial is the last stop of the process. Here a judge and jury hear your case to determine if you are guilty or not.
The above information is provided courtesy of Wikipedia, www.wikipedia.org under “Criminal Process.”