US Criminal Justice System

The Nine Basic Steps of the Criminal Justice System

Step 1: A crime occurs

A crime is committed.
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Step 2: Investigation and Arrest or Citation

If the suspect is caught at the time of the crime they are booked, but if not then an investigation occurs and if there is enough evidence a warrant is issued followed by an arrest.
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Step 3: Initial Appearance

Assures that the individual was properly charged, that an attorney is appointed for the defendant, and that a date is set for the preliminary hearing.
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Step 4: Preliminary Hearing or Trial Information

Determines whether there is sufficient evidence to support the charges against the defendant.
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Step 5: Arraignment and Plea

The defendant pleas guilty or not guilty. If they plea guilty they are sentenced, if they plea not guilty a trial date will be set.
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Step 6: Discovery and Plea Negotiations

the defense attorney has a right to"discover" the State's evidence. A defendant may change the plea to guilty at any time. Most defendants choose to plead guilty as plea negotiations proceed.
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Step 7: Trail

The jury is chosen and sworn in then the trial proceeds. If the jury reaches a verdict of not guilty the defendant is released. If the verdict is guilty the defendant proceeds to sentencing.
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Step 8: Sentencing

The court may order the defendant to pay a fine, serve probation, or serve jail time. A combination of these three may be issued.
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Step 9: Appeal

Defendants is some instances have the right to appeal their case to the appellate courts to review the case.
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