How the Criminal Process Works

Most people have never contemplated the idea that they might be arrested.  That is because most people live their lives in a way that is open and honest and are not breaking the law. Yet mistakes are made all the time and even if a person committed no crime there is still a chance that they just might find themselves accused of doing something they didn’t do. Today all it takes is the word of one or two people and you can be accused of committing a crime.  The normal person will not know how the system really works because they have only known the inside of a courtroom on television shows. But all people should be aware of their rights and the process so that they will be able to navigate their way through a legal challenge successfully.

One of the first phases of an investigation will be to question a person. This is done when there is a suspicion that a crime was committed and it is believed that you might have knowledge of that incidence.  Questioning is done without taking someone to another location and should be informal. How you answer questions is very important because it there is probable cause then the arrest can happen. This means that the police officer is going to detain you and deprive you of your right to freedom of movement. This can happen after a search of a home or vehicle in which something illegal is found. There needs to be a legitimate probable cause in order for that search to take place immediately or they will have to get a warrant to search you property.  It is in a person’s best interest to never allow a search because it can only provide something negative to a person’s situation. Even though a person has nothing to hide, there is no reason to allow a search.

All people can be arrested when the police officer has probable cause that the person has committed a felony or the officer sees the person commit a misdemeanor or there is a warrant already issued for that person to be arrested. Once arrested and officially accused of a crime the person is booked, where their picture and fingerprints are taken for the record and the person is held for a period of time. If the person is a danger to themselves or others they won’t be released. Once you are brought before a judge, the accused will be able to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest. In most cases they will then be able to get out of jail until the trial on bail.

Posted Monday, February 10th, 2014 under Criminal Law.