The Criminal Law Process

The criminal process begins with someone being arrested with probable cause that they have committed a crime. Next, they are booked at a police station. After that, the matters are turned over to the prosecutor.

A prosecutor will then file charges if he or she believes there is enough evidence. If there is, the defendant will make his or her first appearance in front of a judge. The judge will inform him of his rights and charges.

The next step is the prosecutor will submit the allegations to the grand jury for an indictment. Indictments are largely successful in being procured. Afterwards, the defendant will have an arraignment to plead guilty or not guilty. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the case will go to trial. The defendant has the choice to a jury trial or a bench trial. Usually the defendant will elect to be tried before a jury.

The defense counsel and prosecutor will now begin what is called discovery. Discovery is the collection of evidence and other information to prepare legal strategy and the case the lawyers will present at trial. Typically, the prosecutor's evidence must be freely presented to the defendant's counsel. However, this rule does not work the other way around.

The defendant has a fifth right to remain silent - even at his or her own trial. This silence is not to be construed as any form of guilt by the jury. As soon as both sides rest there case, the jury will deliberate and come back with a verdict. If the defendant is guilty, the next phase will be the sentencing of punishment.