The Criminal Justice Process
6. The process flow for criminal case trials is very consistent from one case to another. Describe the process flow of a criminal case that has gone to trial instead of being settled through a plea bargain. Be sure to place the events in the exact order in which they occur, and explain any significant factors associated with why the events must occur in the order you have described.
The Criminal Justice Process
The process of a criminal case trial is consistent from one criminal case to another, in the USA. This process might vary from one state to another, where the federal criminal justice system applies its own procedures, rules, and the terms used to explain the steps of the proceedings. However, Generally speaking, the criminal justice procedure involves these stages:
Investigation: this is the initial step, where a law enforcement authority analyses the alleged crime to find evidence that the crime really happened or not. The offender can then be arrested, if there is sufficient evidence to warrant the arrest (Reid, 2011).
Charging: the prosecutor can then decide whether to press charges, or decline, based on the evidence at his disposal. The prosecutor can charge the suspect with either felony, misdemeanor, or both, in which a misdemeanor suspect can apply for a bail, while the felony suspect must wait for the initial hearing.
Initial Appearance: in this stage, the suspect is brought before the magistrate, and the charges are read to him. Here, the defendant will be made aware of his rights as the accused, the maximum penalty if found guilty. Additionally, bail conditions can be set at this stage, or denied, based on the magnitude of the case. In some cases of demeanor charges, the defendant can plead guilty to the charges, but usually the defendants are made aware of the following stages, should he choose not to plead guilty.
Preliminary hearings: Although there could be other steps before getting here, Carlson (2010) asserts that this is the following stage. Here, the government through the prosecutor must prove that there is a “probable cause to believe that an offense has been committed and that the defendant committed it” (Carlson, 2010, p. 9).
Arraignment: this stage involves a hearing so as determine whether the case advances to the trial phase or not. The defendant may choose to plead guilty to the charges, not guilty or a plea of no contest, which will determine the advancement of the case to following stages. According to Reid (2011), a defendant who sees no chance of acquittal should the case progress may choose to plead guilty, and in the event he pleads not guilty or does not wish to contest, the case proceeds to the following phase.
Trial: the trial stage is a stage where there is presentation of evidence to the jury or judge to show whether the defendant is guilty. Carlson (2010) notes that more than 80% of all the defendants plead guilty to criminal charges. This stage sees a vigorous exchange of evidence, between the prosecutor and the defense attorney, ranging from witness testimonies, exhibits, documents and even scientific evidence like DNA.
Sentencing: when the jury or the judge finds the defendant guilty beyond reasonable doubt, the court decides on the penalties that are appropriate for the crimes that are established by convictions. Apart from death penalties, judges are typically shouldered with the responsibility of passing sentences, as per the jury recommendation (Reid, 2011).
Appeal: Defendants who have been convicted of particularly serious crimes, can appeal their sentences to courts of appeals or appellate courts. If the defendant intends to pursue an appeal, he is supposed to do so within a stipulated number of days after passing of the sentence (Carlson, 2010). Most appeals are usually not as successful, even though most criminal defendants who have been sentenced follow this route.
Although some states might have other steps in between these steps, this is the standard procedure used. No state doesn’t include any of the steps above, and it is the general procedure used.
Reid, S. (2011). Criminal Justice Essentials (9., Auflage ed.). New York, NY: John Wiley &
Carlson, B. (2010). Criminal Justice Procedure (7th ed.). London: Routledge.