The criminal justice system of the United States can be a bit overwhelming and even scary. The incarceration rate in the US is much higher than that of other industrialized countries, and prison sentences are increasing. With that being the case, if you believe that there is a possibility that you might be accused of a crime, you should seek out the services of an experienced Auburn criminal defense attorney as soon as possible, preferably before being questioned or investigated by the police.
On both a conceptual and procedural level, the criminal justice system is complex. As a way of ensuring the fairness of the proceedings, every federal, state, tribal and local court system has its own set of criminal procedure rules that govern the actions of all players, regardless of whether they are the police, the defense lawyer, the prosecutor, the judge or the jury.
There are various stages of a criminal case. To start, there is an investigation. During that investigation, the police will go over the facts, interview witnesses, and gather any evidence against the suspect or suspects. If enough evidence is uncovered, the police can ask the judge to sign-off on an arrest warrant for the suspect. Once the suspect has been arrested, the next step is for him or her to go in front of the judge, who will either set bail or deny bail so that the suspect will be required to stay in jail until his or her trial date.
Another stage in the process is what is called the arraignment. This is when the accused party first appears before the judge. At this proceeding, the judge tells the accused of the criminal charges against him or her; asks the accused whether he or she has a lawyer or wants a court-appointed lawyer; asks how the accused would like to plead to the charges; determines whether or not the initial amount of bail should be modified; and sets the schedule for prospective court dates.
There are times in which a criminal defendant and the prosecution can negotiate an agreement that will put an end to the criminal matter. Typically, the prosecutor will agree to reduce a charge, drop various charges, or recommend a more lenient sentence in exchange for the defendant’s plea of guilty to a lesser offense. The plea bargaining process is where a seasoned Auburn criminal defense attorney can come in handy in a lot of cases.
However, if the matter proceeds to trial, the prosecutor and defense attorney will give opening and closing statements, introduce evidence and question witnesses. If the defendant is determined to be guilty, the court will impose a sentence that might include fines, jail time, court costs, restitution and probation.