Adam M Smith has always been fascinated by the law and how it pertains to solving crimes and punishing criminals. From district attorneys to grand jury men/women, he wants to know all there is to know about how this system works. This is why, last June, he took the time to really gain a greater understanding of the different stages of criminal cases, and he hopes that his findings will help others better understand how the legal justice system works and operates in this country.
Adam M Smith on the Stages of Criminal Cases
The stages, according to Adam M Smith, are:
- The arrest. This happens if someone is caught in the act of committing a crime, if law enforcement officials believe it is reasonable to assume that the individual committed a crime, or if the police officer has obtained an arrest warrant on the individual.
- Once someone is arrested, they are booked and placed into custody. Fingerprints and mugshots are taken at this point.
- In many cases, suspects can be released if they have paid bail. Bail release is conditional, meaning that the suspect must first agree that they will attend all future court proceedings in relation to this case.
- This is the first time a case will go to court. All charges are presented and the defendant has the option of pleading “no contest”, “not guilty”, or “guilty”.
- Plea bargain, which means that an arrangement is made between the defendant and the prosecution. They often settle for a lesser sentence by pleading guilty, but in so doing save the criminal justice system a lot of money as well.
- The preliminary hearing or grand jury. In around half of all states, a grand jury will determine whether or not there is a case to be made against the individual. In the states, the grand jury will call witnesses and request further information.
- Pre-trial motions, which both the defense and the prosecution present. This ensures which testimony and evidence can be presented at trial.
- Depending on the case, it will be a trial by judge or jury. All evidence from both sides is presented, and it is determined whether or not someone is guilty of the crime they have been accused of.
- This only happens if a guilty verdict is reached. The sentence someone gets depends on what crime they committed, what their history is, how much they regret what they have done, geographical location, and more.
- It is possible for people to appeal the decision of their conviction.
These are the ten steps to the criminal justice system. It demonstrates quite clearly why it can be quite difficult to get someone convicted in the first place. At each stage, something could go wrong and the case could fall through. This is also what fascinates Adam M Smith, who has studied numerous cases of mistakes made by legal professionals.