Monday, October 29, 2012

The Trial

The fourth stage in criminal court is the trial. This is the most challenging and crucial part of criminal court proceedings. The trial stage is where the prosecution will try to prove the defendant’s guilt. On the other side, the defense will attempt to prove the defendants innocence. Trials will often be held in front of a jury. However if both sides agree, a bench trial may be used. A bench trial is where there is no jury; the judge will therefore act as the jury. 
At the start of the trial, the prosecution will give its opening statement. This will generally outline all the evidence, and show the jury how the prosecution will prove the defendant’s guilt. The defense may or may not make an opening statement. The defense's opening statement could be held until the prosecution proves its case or it will be given right after the prosecutions.
Next the "case-in-chief" will occur. This is where the prosecution will first call witnesses to the stand, and will present its evidence to the jury. After the prosecution rests, the defense may cross examine the prosecution's witnesses. After the defense rests, the prosecution can reexamine their witnesses in order to recover from the defense's testimony.

Due to the long nature of the trial procedure, I will be continuing the trial segment next week. Have a great week, see you next time on Men in Blue.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Preliminary Hearing

     The third possible stage in criminal court proceedings is the preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing is not necessary if the defendant pleads guilty or no contest. The preliminary hearing must be held within 30 days of the arrest unless the suspect waives his or her rights' to a speedy trial.Defendants have the right to "pro se", or to legally represent themselves in this hearing.
     A preliminary hearing is held in front of one judge, without a jury, and it will be held in open court.  Open court is where people from the public are granted to watch. What will be conducted at this hearing is a determination of probable cause to the defendants case.
     The prosecutor will possibly bring witnesses to the stand to be questioned. You the defendant will also be able to bring your own witnesses and testimonies to the stand during this stage. However, during the preliminary hearing the defendant does not have to prove his innocence. Rather, the prosecutor has to at least prove probable cause of your guilt. By the end of the hearing the judge will decide to dismiss the charges, reduce the charges filed against you, or will make you stand trial in front of a jury.

    Thank you for reading, next week I will be covering an in depth look at the "trial" part of the criminal proceedings.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Preliminary Arraignment

          The preliminary arraignment is the second stage in the criminal process. As the defendant there are a few things to know before heading into your hearing. The preliminary arraignment is not a trial, there will be no jury to hear your case. What you will encounter is a judge,  your defense lawyer(not required), and yourself. All that happens during this process is the judge will review the criminal complaint that was filed against you, you will be given a copy of the complaint and will be read your rights again. The judge will than schedule a date for the preliminary hearing.  This hearing will be scheduled 3-10 days after your initial arraignment.This event does not take up very much time, at the most this could take up to 3 hours. Ultimately this is the shortest step in the criminal court proceedings.As a result of this hearing, you will neither be found guilty or innocent.  

Next week i will cover the next step in the criminal court proceedings; the preliminary hearing. Thank you for reading, ill see you next week at Men in Blue.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The arrest

At the start of the criminal court process, you the suspect will be arrested based on the suspicion of a crime committed. Believe it or not, you do not have to be put into handcuffs to be arrested. The charges may be sent to your mailing address per the district court you live near. If there are charges against you, you are or were arrested. I will continue this post however, as if you were handcuffed and charged with a crime in person. The arresting officer will have gathered enough intelligence on the crime, the victim or victims, the suspected criminal, and possibly some witnesses to at least charge you with a crime.

At the time of arrest you may be read your Miranda rights, which are the rights of you being a U.S. citizen. Here is what an officer may say "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.", as you can see you do not have to say anything to the police officer as you are arrested. Before studying criminal justice i had the impression that if an officer questioned me i had to answer, many people do not exercise this right and end up either admitting to the crime, or hinder their chance of receiving a non guilty verdict. You are also told that you have the right to an attorney(lawyer) and if you are indigent(too poor), a public defender will be appointed to you. A public defender is a lawyer that is appointed by the court system free of charge, the difference between a lawyer you choose and a public defender is the quality of the attorney. A lawyer that you may choose will be one of your liking, a public defender can be lawyer fresh out of law school.

After you are; read your rights, handcuffed, and put into the back of the police car, you will than either be driven to the local police precinct or to your preliminary arraignment. I will cover more on this next week.

Thank you for stopping by, see you next week for another post on Men in Blue.