9 Steps in Criminal Justice

Know Them!

Step 1. Crime Occurs

Crime is committed, of course.

Step 2. Investigation & Arrest or Citation

If suspect was not arrested at the time the crime was committed, Police/Sheriff's Dept. may continue with its investigation until they feel they have enough evidence to charge the suspect. When arrested you have the right to remain silent and that what you say can be used against you. Which is known as your Miranda Rights.

Step 3. Initial Appearance

Initial appearance assures that the individual was properly charged, that the complaint and affidavit on file are correct, that an attorney is appointed for the defendant and that a date is set for the preliminary hearing. When taken into custody must be taken before a judge within 24 hours of arrest.

Step 4. Preliminary Hearing or Trial Information

The purpose of this hearing is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support the charges against the defendant.

Step 5. Arraignment and Plea

Formal accusation of the defendant where a plea of guilty or not guilty is entered. Defendant does not need to be present if a written arraignment is filed on their behalf by their attorney. The majority of the time the defendant will plead not guilty & the judge will set a trial date.

Step 6. Discovery and Plea Negotiations

If the defendant pleads not guilty, the defense attorney has a right to "discover" the States evidence in the case. Victims and witnesses will be contacted, or may receive a subpoena, if the defense wishes to take their depositions. Most defendants eventually choose to plead guilty as plea negotiations proceed with the County Attorney.

Step 7. Trial

If plea negotiations are not successful, the case goes to trial. Steps during trial: Opening Statements, State's Witnesses and Evidence, Defense's Witnesses and Evidence, Closing Arguments, Court's Instructions to the Jury, Jury's Deliberation and Verdict.

Step 8. Sentencing

Victims & witnesses have the right to attend the sentencing hearing. Some charges have mandatory sentences that must be served, if failure to do so, defendant may have to serve jail time or may suspend the time and place the defendant on probation. If defendant successfully completes probation on a deferred judgment, the conviction will be removed from his/her criminal history.

Step 9. Appeal

The defendant has the right to an appeal after sentencing. In some cases where a defendant has pled guilty, he/ she may have waived the right to appeal certain issues.