The Criminal Trial Process

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“Steps in the Criminal Trial Process”

Patricia Baine

Strayer University

SOC 205

February 12, 2012

Professor Lisa Riggleman-Gross

The following outline will illustrate and define the steps in the criminal trial process from arrest to appeal process.

1) Person commits the crime.
i. Suspect is identified by police and arrested.
ii. Police interview and charge the suspect.
2) Hires attorney.
i. Suspect and attorney meet and discuss the charges.
ii. Suspect decides how he/she will plea.
3) Arraignment hearing before a judge.
i. After arrest, suspect has (usually between two to forty-eight hours) for the informal arraignment hearing. ii. If police have not filed charges within this time, the suspect’s attorney can request the judge to order the suspect’s release. 4) Preliminary Hearing

i. This hearing is for the judge to set bail.
ii. A bail bond is posted as a promise the suspect will appear throughout all court dates. iii. Failure to appear can result in a bench warrant for the suspect’s arrest. 5) Grand Jury

i. If the case occurs on a federal level, a grand jury will decide if there is enough evidence to formally charge the suspect. 6) Indictment
i. This is the formal arraignment at which point the official charges are read and the suspect is asked how they plea.

7) Plea
i. Suspect has three choices on how they will plea.
a) Guilty (possible plea bargain)
b) Not guilty (case goes to trial)
c) Nolo Contendere (no contest and possible plea bargain) 8) Pretrial
i. If a “not guilty” plea is presented by the defendant. a) Defendant request a jury trial
b) Jury selection begins
c) Evidence issues are determined at the pretrial. 9) Trial
i. Both prosecutor and defense lawyer have the opportunity to question prospect...
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