From Arrest to Appeals

The 9 Steps of the Criminal Justice System

1) Crime

A crime occurs

2) Investigation or Arrest/Citation

The crime is further investigated or a warrant for an arrest/citation is issued. The county attorney also reviews the case to see if it will proceed

3) Initial Appearance

  • If the person is taken into custody, they must be brought before a judge within 24 hours
  • Everything is checked to be correct
  • The bail amount is set, along with the severity of the charge
  • May post cash bail or be released on own recognizance

4) Preliminary Hearing

(This step almost never happens because of Trial Information)

It is determined whether there is sufficient evidence against the defendant or not

5) Arraignment and Plea

Plea of guilty or not guilty is entered, if plead not guilty then a trial date is set

6) Discovery and Plea Negotiations

  • Defendant can plea guilty at any time
  • If pleas not guilty then the defense attorney sorts evidence and interviews witnesses
  • The Victim/Witness Program prepares and assists people throughout

7) Trial

The order:

  • opening statements
  • State's witnesses/evidence
  • Defense's witnesses/evidence
  • Closing Arguments
  • Court's instructions to the Jury
  • Jury's deliberation/verdict

8) Sentencing

There are numerous different sentences, including:


  • probation
  • fines
  • jail time
  • restitution
  • deferred judgement
  • mandatory sentences


9) Appeal

Everyone always has the right to appeal (to request a formal charge) after sentencing