Stages of a Criminal Case

While television crime shows make it look like a criminal will immediately go to jail, the process of trying a criminal case is much more complicated. From arrest and posting bail to going to trial and sentencing, there are many legal procedures that the accused will have to go through.

Below is a guide to the stages of a criminal case:

Arrest and booking:
Whether they are taken by force or voluntarily, anyone who is under police custody is arrested and brought into jail. While the accused is booked or cited, a pretrial or probation officer will gather information about the alleged crime. This information will be used by a judge to decide if the accused can be allowed out of custody before the trial by posting bail and agreeing to appear at a set date.

A judge will read the official charges against the accused as well as their rights to an attorney. During arraignment, bail may be changed or the accused may be released on their “own recognizance.” Arraignment is also the time when the accused enters their plea of guilty or not guilty. If he or she agrees to a plea bargain, then the charges may be lessened or dropped for an admission of guilt. If the accused maintains their innocence, then they may be taken to trial.

Motions, Hearings, and Trial:
Both the prosecution and the defense will hold a series of motions and hearings that will determine which evidence and witnesses will be allowed in court. At trial, the prosecution will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused has committed the crime they are being held for. A judge or a jury will make the final decision.

If the jury or the judge finds the accused to be guilty, then sentencing will occur. Depending on the crime, prior criminal record, and a person’s living condition, the court will determine a suitable sentence. Sentences can include jail time, the payment of fines, or even counseling and community service.

If a judge allows the accused to post bail, then they will be granted freedom as long as they agree to appear in court when told.

Bail can be paid in cash or with a cashier’s check, but if you cannot afford bail on your own, then Bail Hotline can help. With over 20 locations in California, we can help you or a loved one get a bail bond in your time of need—24/7. For more information 888-GET BAIL or contact us now.

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