What Are the Steps in the Criminal Process?

Posted By David L. Carlson, Attorney At Law || 18-May-2015

There are several steps involved in the criminal process, some of which will depend on the exact specifics of your case. For example, if you decide to accept a plea bargain, there will be no need for a trial. On the other hand, you may have to navigate every step of this process if a ruling is given and you have the opportunity to appeal it. Either way, our firm can be here for you throughout the entire process.

Get a better understanding of what to expect at each step:

Investigation & Arrest by Police
Depending on your alleged offense, the police may arrest you in the “act” or may investigate you as a suspect and arrest later on. Once this has occurred, you must wait to be charged/booked.

Booking
During this administrative procedure, your name, the crime you’ve been charged with, and any other relevant information is recorded for court purposes. You are typically at a police station at this time.

Arraignment/Start of Case
This is the time where you will enter a plea, whether it be guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere (no contest). If you enter a plea of not guilty, then a date for your trial will be set.

Bail or Detention
Depending on how the previous steps went and the nature of the crime, bail may be set. If the judge rules against this, you will be kept in detention behind bars.

Plea Bargain Hearing
If you were to work out a deal with the prosecution, a plea bargain will be made (pleading guilty in exchange for agreed upon sentence). This may happen at the arraignment, preliminary hearing, or even the trial.

Preliminary Hearing
In this first hearing, the prosecution must convince the judge that there is enough evidence for there to be an official trial. If they are successful, your case will proceed.

Trial
This is where both sides will make their arguments. It involves opening statements, witness examination, presentation of evidence, closing arguments, charge of the jury, and the final verdict.

Sentencing
Whether you are found guilty by verdict or your own plea, a hearing must be set to then determine how your penalties/sentencing will be carried out—whether jail time, probation, fines, etc.

Appeal
If you do not believe your case was handled according to proper procedural law or that some violation occurred, you may have the opportunity to appeal your conviction.

If you have more questions about the criminal process you may be facing, be sure to give Carlson & Collier a call today. Our Richmond criminal lawyers would be more than honored to take on your case and provide the insight counsel and strategic defense you need during this time!

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