Being arrested and charged with a crime is a serious matter. Each year thousands of Alabama residents go through this experience. The variety of criminal charges a person could face is seemingly endless, from property crimes to violent crimes, drug crimes to driving-related offenses – with misdemeanors and felonies throughout the categories.
For someone who is going through this experience for the first time, there are usually more questions than answers. So, what are the basics of the criminal case process?
Criminal case procedure
For starters, most criminal cases obviously start with the arrest. Having handcuffs slapped on can be frightening, but our readers should remember that an arrest is not the same as a conviction. In fact, each year in America thousands of criminal cases that started with the frightening experience of an arrest end with the case ultimately being dismissed. That may not happen in your case, but you can still hope for the best at first.
After the arrest, arrestees will be informed of the exact charges in the case. Arrestees have the right to have legal counsel, and the prosecution must turn over all evidence gathered in the case. From there, criminal defendants will need to consider their options moving forward. Could a motion to suppress evidence in the case be a possibility based on constitutional violations? Should you explore a plea agreement? Is taking the case to trial the best option? These questions, among many others, will need to be considered in full.
However, if the case moves to trial, what seems like a complicated event can actually be broken down into simple phases: the jury members – if it is a jury trial – are selected; each side can make an opening statement; evidence is presented, usually through witness testimony; closing arguments are made; and then the jury deliberates to return a verdict. Each criminal case is unique, so the path forward for any given person can vary.