Criminal Justice Process

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The criminal justice process includes investigation and arrest, pretrial activities, adjudication, sentencing, corrections, and due process and individual rights. Whether a part of the system or a non-system the agencies of criminal justice must process the cases that come before them. An analysis of criminal justice case processing provides a road map to the criminal justice system itself.

The first step is an investigation. When a crime is committed evidence is gathered at the scene when possible and a follow-up investigation attempts to reconstruct the sequence of activities. A few offenders are arrested at the scene of the crime, most are apprehended later. With an arrest warrant issued by a judge provides the legal basis for an apprehension by police. With the arrest when a person is taken into custody limits the arrestee’s freedom. Arrest is a serious step in the process of justice and involves a discretionary decision made by the police seeking to bring criminal sanctions to bear. Only about half of all people arrested are eventually convicted, and of those, only about quarters are sentenced to a year or more in prison. (Criminal Justice Today pg. 18)

After an arrest suspects are taken to booking. During booking which is an administrative procedure pictures are taken, fingerprints are made, and personal information such as address, date of birth, weight, and height is gathered. Details of the charges are recorded, and an administrative record of the arrest is created. Suspects are often advised of their rights again and are asked to sign a form on which each right is written. (Criminal Justice Today pg.18)

Second step is pretrial activities. Usually within hours suspects are brought before a magistrate (a judicial official) for an initial appearance. The judge will tell them of the charges against them, will again advise them of their rights, and may sometimes provide the opportunity for bail. (Criminal Justice Today pg. 18). Most defenders are...