Every day people are taken to court, and everyday wrongful convictions happen. A recent study shows that 1 in 25 people who are on death row are likely innocent. Luckily, guardian angels do exist, though they have traded in their more traditional attire of halos and white cloaks for swanky three-piece Italian suits and paisley ties. Previously known as guardian angels, now as attorneys, the good people of the law have taken it upon themselves to fix that flaw, and give people a fighting chance. This is because, even when a crime has been committed and a criminal is to stand trial, there is a story to be told. This then begs the question of “What is a criminal case? And what should people expect?”
Unlike civil cases, a criminal case begins when a person is indicted. This means, as soon as a person is accused of a crime, typically by a prosecutor or district attorney, after being brought in by law enforcement, the criminal case begins. However, one misconception that pertains to criminal cases is that they must always be moved to trial. Usually, this is what happens, it is however incorrect. Criminal cases can be brought to their premature end through a plea bargain; when the defendant pleads guilty in hopes of avoiding trial, as the penalties in a trial are normally greater.
Criminal cases take a very simple and straightforward course, which is always the same. Here is the breakdown of it:
The reason it is alleged is because a person is innocent until proven otherwise. The crimes can include identity theft, murder, assault and sexual assault. Although these crimes are rather straightforward, some people are unaware of the details that are incorporated into sexual assault. Clint Broden of Broden & Mickelsen explains that having sexual encounters with someone under the age of consent is considered sexual assault. With a lawyer’s representation, you will be provided with a vigorous defense and charged with a reasonable fee.
Just like you would have seen in the movies, law enforcement members will charge in and arrest the alleged criminal. After the defendant is arrested, a preliminary hearing will be established. This will normally take place in a lower court, which is often the Magisterial District Court. During the hearing, it will be determined if the case should go to trial or not.
Depending on how the defendant pleads to the charges they are being faced with, they will either be taken to trial or be given their sentences. If the defendant pleaded ‘not guilty’ the judge will have the hearing brought to trial. Though, the process can be very lengthy, and usually takes place over the course of a few weeks, months, and sometimes years. However, it will be concluded with a sentence that is issued by the judge and jury. If the defendant is not satisfied with the sentencing they have received, they can appeal the conviction and go through another trial.
As you are being faced with criminal charges, after being arrested and put through a hearing, if you are going to trial, there are a few things you should know. Trials will prove to be exceptionally complicated, and remarkably frightening, and so it is best that you are equipped with proper and aggressive legal representation. They will guide you through the whole process. For instance, one thing you should know is when you may choose a bench or jury trial. With crimes that qualify for the “serious crime” brand, which often carries a potential sentence of 6 months and above, you are entitled to a trial by jury. This is decided before the trial begins. On the other hand, a bench trial will be left in the hands of a judge.
Sometimes, either the prosecutor or the judge will insist on having the trial become a jury trial. This will bring you to the selection of the jury. Both, your lawyer and the prosecutor will ask the candidates a series of questions which will help them decide if these candidates can be fair jury members. Any candidate whose fairness put into question will usually be dismissed by the judge. Subsequently, the evidence will be presented and the trial begins with opening statements made by either side.
All in all, seeing as how trials impose a more threatening sentence on the defendant, it is usually best to have the case settled during a preliminary hearing. Either that or a plea bargain will do. However, should the defendant go to trial, it becomes necessary to find vigorous representation, which will help the defendant, by being charged with a reasonable fee.