Criminal Justice System

9 basic steps of the criminal justice system

Crime Occurs

A crime was committed.

Investigation and Arrest or Citation

If the suspect was not arrested at the time the crime was committed the officers will investigate the criminal until they have enough evidence to charge them. If there is already enough evidence present and they can not find the suspect they will issue a warrant for their arrest.

Initial Appearance

Criminal is taken before a judge (within 24 hours) who approves that the individual was properly charged. They set a bail amount and they decide the amount based on if you are a danger to the community. If you bay for bail you may go home until trail and if you dont you sit in jail until trail.

Preliminary Hearing or Trial Information

Determines whether there is sufficient evidence to support charges against defendant

Arraignment and Plea

Formal accusation of defendant where a plea of guilty or not guilty is entered.

Discovery and Plea Negotiations

If the defendant is guilty then they go straight to sentencing and then put in jail. If the defendant is not guilty the defense attorney has to discover the states evidence.


If plea negotiations are not successful, the case goes to trail. A trail usually consists of the following steps: an opening Statement for the State and the Defense, State's witnesses and evidence, Defense's witnesses and evidence, closing arguments, Court's instructions to the jury, and the Jury's deliberation and verdict. If the defendant is not guilty they go home but if they are guilty then they go to sentencing.


The Court decides the defendants punishment. For example, the court may order the defendant to serve jail time, pay a fine, or place the defendant on probation.


In all cases the defendant can request to re try their case after sentencing. The defendant may have the right to appeal certain issues.