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The Various Stages of Criminal Proceedings

If you have been accused of a crime, then you should go through the various stages of criminal proceedings, which may vary from state to state. Most of the criminal cases terminate when the accused accepts a plea bargain where he chooses to plead guilty before trial. In this case he may be subjected to lesser charges or the charges may be even dismissed sometimes.

Stages of a Criminal Case

Arrest: Criminal case typically begins when a person is arrested for a crime.

Booking: After arrest, the accused is processed into police custody. Finger prints and photographs of the accused are taken and he is put in the jail.

Bail: If the accused is eligible for bail, then he can pay the bail amount by himself or through bail bond agency and get out of jail.

Arraignment: The first court appearance of the accused after he has been arrested is called arraignment. Based on the crime, the accused might have to wait until arraignment for having his bail set.

Plea Bargaining: As mentioned before, most of the cases terminate before trial as the criminal court system is overwhelmed with cases. Most of the cases are solved during plea bargain where the accused pleads guilty so that he may be charged with lesser sentence.

Preliminary Hearing: In this stage the prosecution tries to convince the judge that the accused has committed the crime and he has enough evidence to show that.

Pre-Trial Motions: Here, the defense attorney tries to exclude some evidence that is against the accused and tries to establish some ground rules for your trial.

Trial: Here all the witnesses and evidences are cross examined. The trial itself usually has six important stages before a verdict is reached.

Sentencing: In this stage, the judge sets an appropriate sentence for the crime if the accused is found guilty. Otherwise he is free.

Appeal process: If the accused is not convinced of the judgment, then he can appeal to a higher court.