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Understanding the criminal law process

The criminal justice system can be intimidating for individuals who have been accused of a committing a crime. It is important, however, to keep in mind that the criminal justice system provides important protections for accused individuals. One protection is the right to a criminal defense. Preparing an effective criminal defense strategy can include a number of considerations such as if any of the procedures authorities were required to follow for the protection of the accused individual were violated, among other important considerations.

When forming a strong criminal defense strategy, it is helpful to understand the different phases of the criminal defense process. Provided that the authorities have probable cause that a crime was committed and that the accused individual committed the crime, they can make an arrest in different ways including a lawful arrest. Following a lawful arrest, the accused individual is typically arraigned within 48 hours. The next step, if the accused individual has been charged with a felony, is a preliminary hearing during which time the judge determines if there is probable cause.

If the court determines there is probable cause to proceed, the criminal justice process proceeds and another arraignment may take place. What follows is a pretrial conference and, potentially, trial. During the process, however, plea bargain negotiations may also take place which may remove the need for the case to progress to trial. The criminal justice process can be complex and without knowledgeable guidance, may sometimes feel like a maze.

It is important for accused individuals to remember that they have important criminal defense rights, including the right to defend against the charges they are facing. A strong criminal defense strategy is uniquely dependent on the situation of the accused individual and knowledge of the criminal justice process which is why familiarity with the criminal justice system can be helpful to preserving the rights of the accused individual.

Source: Criminal.findlaw.com, "Common Criminal Law Questions," Accessed March 1, 2017

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