It is rather complicated to describe the criminal justice process in the US because it is not consistent and differs in various locations. Still, it involves some general and common elements, which provides an opportunity to describe its peculiarities in total. All in all, they provide the governments with the opportunity to control crime and ensure a decent environment in the city, state, and country. This process is rather long-lasting, and it consists of several administrative procedures. They start with the commitment of a crime and its investigation and end with the defendant’s opportunity to appeal to the court.
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- Investigation. It is the initial procedure maintained by the officials after the law was violated. It is held by the police that aim to gather all possible evidence that can help to define the suspect (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt para. 5).
- Arrest. Then one can be arrested and taken into custody if the reasonable link with the committed crime is found.
- Booking. The administrative record of this person is made to ensure that one is in the system and can be found if needed (Department of Government and Justice Studies para. 16).
- Prosecution. The prosecutor considers the case and defines whether the suspect should be charged or not.
- Initial appearance. When appearing before a judge for the first time, the suspect can be released because of the lack of evidence or sent further.
- Preliminary hearing. During this procedure, all information about the case is considered to determine if a trial can be warranted. The suspect may also dispute the charges at this stage. It can also be held in a form of a grand jury, depending on the state law peculiarities (National Center for Victims of Crime para. 17).
- Arraignment. The judge reads the defendant the indictment, and one tells whether he/she is guilty or not.
- Trial. Especially when the guilt is not admitted, a jury or a judge listens to the case and considers whether the suspect is really the one who has committed a crime. In this way, it is determined what should be done to the person: whether one deserves punishment or can be released.
- Sentencing. Being found guilty, the criminal is then sentenced by a judge. One can be put on probation, sent to prison or just made to pay a fine.
- Appeal. The convict has a right to appeal if one considers that the outcome of the case was reasonably wrong. One can refer to some failures in the trial procedure, etc.
- Punishment. Depending on the sentence, the convict can be released earlier or serve the complete term (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt para. 15).
All these procedures of the criminal justice process are tightly connected and are always maintained in a particular order, which ensures that the outcome of the crime case is appropriate and reasonable. Of course, the initial step of investigation is extremely important, as it starts the whole process. Without it, the police would not have any possibility to find a suspect and prove that one is guilty (unless this person admits that he/she is responsible and agrees to undertake the punishment).
Investigation triggers all other involved agencies and creates the case, which is to be considered and solved. Even though its significance cannot be denied, the procedure of a trial seems to be more influential one. During the trial, professionals prove whether the suspect is guilty or not (Offices of the United States Attorneys para. 1). Thus, here the outcome of the case can is decided. One can be released or pleaded guilty and then sentenced. In this way, it is identified during the trial if the whole process had sense and was successful or all resources were wasted in vain.
It may take weeks or even months to reach the procedure of the trial because this step requires a lot of other tasks to be accomplished. The prosecutor and the attorney of the suspect should be well aware of all peculiarities of the case they deal with and should have enough evidence to prove the guilt or innocence of the suspect. If one is likely to be sentenced to more than half a year, the trial usually involves the jury; if not, it is often held by a judge only (“The Criminal Justice Process” para. 46).
In this way, the trial seems also to be a checking procedure, which ensures that witness testimony and evidence are appropriate. In its framework, the sides have an opportunity to share their points of view, which allows to see the situation from different perspectives at the same time. As a result, the biases are likely to be reduced. While previous procedures maintained after the investigation are mainly focused on the officials ideas, the jury, and the judge make their mind when thinking as a defendant also. Moreover, the trial with a jury prevents the power excess, which not necessary but may be present during the previous procedures (The National Judicial College 1).
The fact that the trial presupposes the involvement of several people in the decision-making tends to prove its authoritativeness and appropriateness. As the verdict is announced, all officials who were involved in the criminal justice process can receive a proof that their work was maintained decently, and the victim or one’s family can be satisfied.
Thus, the procedure of the trial seems to be the most important one in the whole criminal justice process. It gathers the outcomes of all previous stages and reveals the expected outcome of the case.
Department of Government and Justice Studies. The Criminal Justice Process, 2016. Web.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The Process of Criminal Justice, 2016. Web.
National Center for Victims of Crime. The Criminal Justice System, 2008. Web.
Offices of the United States Attorneys. Trial, 2016. Web.
The Criminal Justice Process 2016. Web.
The National Judicial College. Why Jury Trials are Important to a Democratic Society, 2016. Web.