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(2) The Court Process

(2) The Court Process - Criminal Evidence and Procedure The...

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Criminal Evidence and Procedure The Court Process 2-1 Introduction Preparation of each case begins with the officer’s initial observations in the case s/he should note facts used to establish reasonable suspicion and in the case of an arrest probable cause 2.2 The Criminal Complaint Criminal cases come to court from 3 main sources: police, private persons (citizen’s arrests) and grand jury indictments Police can start the process several ways: 1. arrest based on an arrest warrant – application for the warrant will be the 1 st official document filed with the court 2. no arrest warrant – the complaint is the 1 st document filed prosecutor decides which cases will be filed and what crimes will be charged – in order to do this they need a report which clearly states the facts of the case and what info is available to the police there are no precise standards for a prosecutor when filing charges : (winnable) 1. how strong is the case? 2. did the police conduct their investigation thoroughly? 3. what crime(s) were committed? 4. were the suspect’s constitutional rights violated? 5. are the witnesses credible? Complaint must state the facts for each charge Description must cover every element in the definition of that crime (use wording from penal code) Must show that the crime occurred within the court’s jurisdiction and show the date (statute of limitations) If police seek an arrest warrant prior to arrest, they must follow formal procedures Make out an affidavit under oath of all the facts Typically use the same wording as complaints Many states allow the arrest warrant to take the place of the complaint When a private person wants to file charges, they are usually required to go to the prosecutor’s office and give all the info under oath After the prosecutor decides what charges to file, complaint it typed and taken to the court clerk (filing the compliant) Once the complaint is filed, suspect is legally known as the defendant 2.3 Arraignment Defendant’s first court appearance on the charge (1 st appearance, preliminary hearing, etc) Meridith Spencer Page 1 of 9
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Criminal Evidence and Procedure 1. informs defendant of what charges have been filed 2. make sure the defendant has an atty if the defendant has a right to an atty, determine if qualifies for free atty or if is representing self 3. set bail 4. enter a plea guilty, not guilty, nolo contendere 5. set the next court appearance at arraignment defense may seek to dismiss the case bc the complaint does not contain all the required information arraignment can also serve as a probable cause hearing must occur within 48 hours of arrest judge must review sworn statements to determine if there is probable cause not required if a judge previously issued an arrest warrant for the defendant or if the defendant will not be held in custody pending trial 2.4 Preliminary Hearing Felony cases that have not been heard by a grand jury must have a preliminary hearing unless the defense waives it
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(2) The Court Process - Criminal Evidence and Procedure The...

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