Criminal procedure in the United States is the method through which the government enforces criminal laws. The overall criminal process includes a specific set of rules. Below is an orderly list of what happens in this process. A Birmingham criminal defense attorney can help you with individual cases but as a general overview this is how criminal cases go:
• When it has been determined that a crime has been committed an arrest is made or charges are filed for a warrant
• The accused person will undergo the booking process where administrative information is gathered such as telephone number, fingerprints, age, name and address.
• Informal arraignment (within 2 – 48 hours). Here, the arrested person will be informed of the charges against them and be given their Miranda rights if they have not already done so.
• Bail will be set unless the charge is murder. If the charge is murder it is up to the judge whether or not to set bail.
• Defendant will leave bail or remain in custody. They will then be notified of when and where they are scheduled to appear next.
• Preliminary hearing (usually within 7 – 10 days of informal arraignment). In this step of the process, the prosecution must prove that the charges are valid, and they will likely call witnesses and show evidence. The defense typically will not during this step. The presiding judge will determine whether or not the person should actually go to trial.The exception to this step is if the case is remanded to federal court. In this situation the defendant will go before a private grand jury.
• A plea bargain may occur. This is an arrangement where the prosecutor will recommend a reduced term of incarceration or probation in exchange for a guilty plea.
• Formal arraignment. Defendant may plea for each charge listed in the preliminary hearing. If the defendant pleads “not guilty” the process will continue.
• A trial will be brought about within 180 days of criminal complaint, and the accused may present their defense
• Sentencing occurs.
• Appeals may be filed within 30 days.
Early in the criminal process there are many cases, but as they progress they begin to dwindle in number. Some cases get dismissed and others are referred for treatment or counseling