November 30, 2014
After you have been arrested, a person wonders what happens next in the criminal justice system. While each case is different, most criminal cases follow the same due process. Many cases do not make it to trial because of plea bargains, motions to dismiss and other elements. However, if a case does make it to trial, it will follow steps similar to these:
The suspect will be arrested by a law enforcement agent (normally a police officer) after evidence has been collected. The arrest may occur after the officer has witnessed a crime being committed, has enough probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed, or has an arrest warrant signed by a judge.
The arrested will then be brought in by the police officer to go through the booking process. The arrestee’s personal property will be held, their fingerprints will be added into the system, and their mug shot will be taken.
Once the arrested has been booked, they may be granted bail. This means the arrested will be able to pay a certain amount of money in exchange for their release. The amount the arrested will have to pay for bail will depend on the crime committed, whether they are a flight risk, and any potential past criminal record.
If charges are filed, the next court appearance is the arraignment. There are two questions asked during arraignment;
1) Who is your Attorney?
2) What is your Plea?
The judge will read the charges as they are filed against the defendant. The defendant will then enter a plea of either “guilty,” “not guilty,” or “no contest.” An experienced attorney can help you at this critical first stage of the case.
In Florida state court, your attorney can file a notice of appearance, which effectively eliminates the arraignment since the two questions are answered by document.
5) Plea Bargaining or Dismissal
While many cases are litigated, few go through to trial. Most are able to reach a plea bargain or are dismissed. If the case is not dismissed, the defendant will be given a chance to plead no contest or guilty rather than going to trial.
6) Pre-Trial Motions
Before the trial begins, both the prosecution and defense will have a chance to move the court to exclude or include evidence and witnesses for the trial.
7) Criminal Trial
The trial is when a jury of the defendant’s peers will decide if the defendant is innocent or guilty based on the provided evidence. If the jury is unable to reach a decision, then the judge may call for a mistrial. In this case, the case will be reset and if again taken to trial, a new jury will be chosen. If the jury finds the defendant not guilty, double jeopardy attaches and the person will not be able to be retried.
If the defendant is found guilty, then they will go into the sentencing phase. The court will decide what punishment the defendant should receive. When deciding on a punishment, the court will take into account a number of variables, such as previous criminal history and the nature of the crime.
After conviction, the defendant is able to file an appeal. The defendant is often able to ask for their case to be reviewed by a higher court or they may ask to be retried.
A criminal case is a complex and intricate system. When your freedom is on the line, you should not risk going in alone. Contact the experienced attorneys at the Khonsari Law Group. Our expert team knows all the ins and outs of criminal cases. Do not risk your freedom and call KLG today.