Even though all of us try our best to abstain from unlawful acts and try to refrain ourselves from having a criminal record, mistakenly one might find oneself in a crime-related situation. Or simply one might wonder what will happen if caught as a criminal, guilty or not guilty. Most of us usually know that when a suspect gets arrested, he’s interrogated by all means and when proven guilty, is charged with a sentence, and then criminal has to carry out the sentence. But actually, it’s not that of a simple procedure, it includes various steps.
To quench the thirst of curiosity here’s a brief description of what happens when someone is arrested and charged with a crime.
First, the arrest takes place when one is either caught in an act or the police have the arrest warrant. The police must follow a definite legal approach to observe the criminal’s legal and constitutional rights, throughout the arresting and post-arrest period. The police might search the clothes to make sure there are no hidden weapons and may take personal belongings in their custody. According to Criminal Defense Expert from stowelawfirmnc.com the arrested person has the right to stay silent and consult with an attorney before giving a statement as whatever he says can be used in court against him.
If the arrestee is unable to hire a legal representative, then the state will provide him with a criminal defense attorney. If he wants to speak without taking counsel from the attorney, he still has the right to stop speaking whenever he desires. If one is detained and not booked then the attorney may go before the judge and obtain an order for the police instructing them to present the arrestee to the court in order to ascertain if one is put in captivity against the law.
Following the arrest, but prior to charging with a crime, the police writes a report about all the events that took place, the details and witnesses and forwards it to the prosecutor. The prosecutor, on the basis of the report received, has various options about how to deal with the case. He can file a complaint with the trial court and can proceed with the charges, he can advance to the grand jury, present them all the details, evidence and witnesses and ask them about the charges, if any, or he can decide just not to pursue the case.
The prosecutor can decide if it is required to file charges about all the crimes or some particular ones. While taking the final decision the prosecutor takes into account, the criminal’s past record and other credentials as well. Prosecutor’s decisions might be affected by political pressure, office polices and the prosecutor’s own notion of justice.
Before presenting the defendant (the arrestee) in the presence of the judges, he is allowed to converse with his attorney for a brief time. If the defendant was arrested without a warrant, it might be the first time he will be listening to the charges against him. Otherwise, the judge will read out the charges against him and make him understand them. The judge will then ask the defendant to enter a plea. The defendant can enter a plea of “not guilty”, of “no contest”, or of “guilty”.
Each of them has a totally different course for the respective case. If the defendant pleas for no guilty while he is guilty, then it is the state’s responsibility to present enough evidence in order to prove the committed crime. If the defendant is proven guilty then he awaits the sentencing hearing. If he is found no guilty, either because he was actually not criminal or because there was not enough evidence to prove his crime, the defendant will be released. If the defendant opts for pleading “guilty” or “no contest”, there will be no trial and a sentencing hearing.
Before the sentencing hearing, the defendant will be evaluated and the court will devise a pre-sentencing report regarding his past criminal record, substance abuse if any, statements of witnesses etc. This report aids the jury to give a verdict. At the subsequent hearing, there might be a chance for the defendant and his family, victim and his family or any related party to speak up regarding the case.
The jury will consider all the facts and figures, evidence, witnesses statements and statements of any other related party before making a jurisdiction. If the crime was minor, the defendant might have already completed his time in captivity otherwise, the jury will make a sentence. It might be some fine or serving time in jail, or community service or anything else that the jury deems right.
If the prosecutor goes for the grand jury, the procedure is a little different. The grand juries are almost similar to the regular juries but they do the proceedings in private while the other juries work in public. As the name indicates the grand jury consists of more members than the regular jury. They do not require unanimous decisions like the regular jury they opt for the point that is preferred by the majority. And most importantly, the grand jury does not decide if the defendant is guilty or not, they give their verdict about the charges, that is, if the charges should be brought on or dropped.
Even though they work behind the doors, the prosecutor presents jurors a bill, all the evidence and witnesses and they proceed in the absence of defendants and their lawyers. If the jury indicts defendant then its a “true bill” if they decide not to indict then its a “no bill”. The prosecutor can then approach again with more evidence, get a new grand jury or can file the case regardless. If it’s a true bill then the case will proceed as mentioned above.
The procedures involving criminals are pretty tiring for both the defendant and the victim. That is why the state makes laws and police enforce them to ensure peace and amity between the citizens. Before committing a crime, one should consider the consequences first.