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Criminal Trial Procedures

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Criminal Trial Procedures

The pretrial procedures are the formal process taken after arrest is made all away up to the trial. Once an arrest has been made the prosecutor will decides to file charges if there is probable cause to the crime, which he or she is charged with. The next step will be the preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing will establish whether probable cause is sufficient for trial. The preliminary hearing is conducted before a magistrate or a judge, were the prosecution presents its evidence and witnesses to the judge. The defendant or the defense counsel has the right to cross-examine witnesses and to challenge the prosecutor's evidence. Base on the evidence showed to the judge, the judge will make a decision if probable cause exists to be bounded over for trial.

An arraignment takes place after the preliminary hearing. At the arraignment, the judge informs the defendant of the charges and appoints counsel if it has not yet been retained. According to the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, the accused has the right to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation. The judge at the arraignment must make sure that the defendant clearly understands the charges. After the charges are read and explained, the defendant is asked to enter a plea. If a plea of not guilty the judge will set a trial date. When the defendant pleads guilty or nolo, a date for sentencing is arranged. The judge then either sets bail or releases the defendant on personal recognizance. If a guilty plea is made, it very important that the defendant knows that he or she is surrendering their constitutional rights. By surrendering his or her constitution right, they are given up their right to remain silent, the right to confront wit¬nesses, the right to a trial by jury, and the right to be proven guilty by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

The next part of the process is the trial stage. This stage usually begins with jury selection (unless it's a bench trial). This is done through a process called voir dire (French, for "see say.") During the voir dire, attorneys from both, the prosecution and defense as well as the judge challenge the prospective jurors in an attempt to winnow through them.



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