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Criminal Procedure


Criminal procedure refers to the methods used to investigate and prosecute a crime. In addition, criminal procedure protects the rights of the defendant. There are two types of criminal procedure - for federal and state crimes.

Federal Crimes

Individuals accused of committing federal crimes are prosecuted using federal criminal procedure. This means that the defendant is afforded certain rights contained in the Constitution, specifically, the Bill of Rights. The Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments provide the basis for federal procedural rights. The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure enacted by Congress in 1945 are a supplement to the rights provided by the Constitution.

State Crimes

Individuals accused of committing state crimes are prosecuted using state criminal procedure. This procedure can vary from state to state, but is typically very similar to federal criminal procedure. State Criminal Procedure is defined by the state constitution, statutes, rules, and judicial decisions of each state.

For more information on the differences between federal criminal procedure and state criminal procedure, contact a criminal attorney who is well-versed in criminal law.

Criminal Procedure Steps

Once federal or state crimes have been committed, reported, investigated, and an arrest has been made, there are several criminal procedures that a defendant will undergo. The following is a list of these procedures.

Booking - An administrative procedure that records the name, address, telephone number, photographs, and fingerprints of a defendant, as well as what crime they are charged with.

Arraignment - A procedure involving the appearance of the defendant in court to enter a plea (guilty or not guilty). If the defendant pleas "not guilty" a date for trial is set.

Bail - Once a date for trial has been set, the defendant is either released on bail or is kept in jail until the trial. Bail will be revoked if the defendant does not show up at the next hearing.

Preliminary Hearing - During this hearing, a judge will determine whether the defendant should be held for trial. The prosecution will need to present enough evidence to convince the judge that the defendant committed the crime.

Trial - A trial consists of opening statements, presentation of evidence and witnesses, closing statements, giving the jury its instructions, and the verdict.

Sentencing - Defendants that plead guilty and those who have been found guilty of a crime are subject to sentencing. The sentence refers to the punishment for the crime.

Punishment - A defendant may be punished in one of three ways: fine, probation, or jail time.

Appeal - After being convicted of a crime, the defendant has a right to appeal the conviction. One basis used for appealing convictions is that criminal procedure was not followed correctly.

Find a Criminal Defense Attorney in Your State

Contact a criminal attorney today for more information on criminal procedure and how to determine whether a crime will be prosecuted in federal or state court.

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