If you have been arrested from a crime, it means that you might be at a point in your life where all of it might seem like going downwards. Life is a series of events, and sometimes these events might turn out to be rather unfortunate. It doesn’t matter how well your life is going or how well you think that you are in control, all it takes is a mere second, and your life will turn upside down. When such a thing happens, you have to understand that all is not lost and there is still hope for you.

Making a mistake doesn’t mean that you should be held accountable for it for the rest of your life. If you are truly sorry for it or you are wrongly accused of something that you didn’t even do, you deserve another chance. Dealing with a criminal case takes its toll on a person. But if you know what’s coming for you and you prepare yourself for the worst, you have a better chance to deal with it. Criminal prosecution develops in a series of stages. In this article, I am going to give you a brief overview of the stages involved in a criminal case and what happens during each stage so that you are prepared for it in the best way possible.

Arrest

A criminal prosecution usually begins with the arrest of the accused, which is done by a police officer. An arrest is made under three circumstances. First of all, a police officer can arrest you if he sees you doing a crime. Secondly, he can arrest you if he has cause to believe that you have committed a crime. And finally, he can arrest you if he has an arrest warrant against your name. When making the arrest, he will read you your rights and book you. After completing the booking process, the police are going to place the suspect in custody. From here on onwards, the case is persecuted in two ways depending on the offense. If you have committed a minor offense, you will be given a citation and ask to appear in front of the court. However, if you have committed a serious offense, you will be placed in jail.

Bail

The step that comes next to arrest is the bailing procedure, which differs from case to case. In some cases, bail is allowed for the suspect, and in others, the suspect isn’t allowed bail. Depending on your case, you will be presented with the options available. To initiate the bailing procedure, the suspect appears in front of the court to determine whether he should be allowed bail or not. In determining if the bail should be granted or determining the amount of bail, the judge considers different things such as the severity of the crime committed, his past record, and if he is sorry for what he did. After taking all of these things into consideration, the judge sets an amount for his bail. Moreover, in some minor offenses where the suspect also doesn’t have any past criminal record, the judge lets the suspect go free after he signs an agreement that he will appear before the court on the decided date. To make sure that you aren’t being tricked into signing something that you shouldn’t, you should call your lawyer as soon as you are arrested. Someone like the Pasadena Criminal Lawyer comes in very handy and will fight for you till the very end.

Arraignment

Arraignment is known as the suspect’s first appearance before the court in which the judge decides how to proceed with the case. During the appearance, the appointed judge reads the right in front of the accused and tells him about each charge he is facing. After listening to all the charges against him, the defendant chooses whether he is going to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest to the charges placed against him. However, it is advised that before any decision is made, the defendant should consult with a lawyer and make his decision based on his assumption. The way you plead has a very lasting effect on the outcome of your case. Moreover, after the defendant pleads, the judge decides the dates for future hearings and sets deadlines for other important motions and filings of the case.

Preliminary Hearings and Pre-Trial Motions

Preliminary hearings and the pre-trial motions are one of the most important stages of the case as evidence is reviewed during this stage, and both parties argue with the judge on how the case should have proceeded. During the preliminary hearings, the prosecutor will try to convince the judge that there is sufficient evidence against the accused, and the case should be taken to trial in front of the jury. On the other hand, the defense attorney will try to find loopholes within the evidence and make sure that there is enough doubt within the mind of the judge to drop the case so that the defendant is released. There are some states which use the method of a grand jury instead of preliminary hearings.

The next stage in line is pre-trial motions, which is one of the most important stages for the defense. During these trials, the defense lawyer has the chance to exclude some of the evidence presented against the defendant on the grounds that they create doubt. Moreover, he can also establish some ground rules for the case with the prosecutor and determine which things can be discussed during the trial. Anything that you say or do during these motions and hearings can be used against you in the court of law, so you should be very careful.

Criminal Trial

Before you go to a trial, you might be presented with a plea deal in which you agree that you have done the crime. In the plea deal, the prosecution will offer you the penalty that you have to pay in return that the case will be dropped and no longer taken to trial. Depending on the evidence against you and how you presented pre-trial motions, the plea deal can be a good thing for you. However, if you think that you are not being given a fair deal, or that you are innocent of the crimes, you can take the case to a trial. A criminal trial is itself a long procedure that involves the following stages.

● Jury Selection

A criminal trial begins by selecting the jury who will determine whether the accused should be sentenced or not. A jury usually contains 12 members who are decided by both parties after they question them to make sure that they are not related to the case in any way. Most say that a trial is won in these phases as the prosecution and defense try to choose jurors who are more likely to give a verdict of their choice.

● Opening Statements

After the jury is selected, a date is selected for the trial to begin. On the decided date, the prosecution begins the trial with an opening statement in which he highlights the case against the defendant. On the other hand, the defense doesn’t have to give an opening statement as in America; a suspect is innocent until proven guilty, so the pressure is on the shoulders of the prosecutor.

● Evidence and Testimony

This is the main phase of a trial in which both sides present the evidence and witness they have to back their case. This stage lays the foundation for the whole case as if you can present enough evidence; the jury will be in favor of you. All the evidence that is presented in this stage must be revealed beforehand to make the trial fair.

● Cross-Examination of Witnesses

As witnesses are presented by both parties, each party has the right to cross-examine the same effort. Witnesses testify under direct examination and take an oath, which means that if they lie, they might also be held accountable. The job of both sides is to discredit the witnesses presented by the other side so that whatever they say can be ignored by the jury, and the argument of the other party is damaged.

● Closing Arguments

After all, the evidence has been presented, and witnesses have been examined, the prosecution usually rests the case until there is nothing more to be presented. After both sides agree that there is nothing more to say, each side is allowed to make a final closing argument to conclude the case. The aim of closing arguments is to strengthen the evidence and witnesses so that there is no room of doubt in the minds of the jury.

● Jury Decision

The last step of a criminal trial is a jury decision in which the jury sits down in a room and must come to a unanimous decision. This might take hours, days, or even weeks if the jury is widely split on coming up with a unanimous decision. If the jury can’t come to a decision, the judge declares a mistrial in which the whole case begins again, or the defendant is offered a better plea deal. If the jury does come to a decision, the judge announces it in the court and sentences a penalty to the defendant for the crimes that he committed.

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