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The Criminal Justice System

The Criminal Justice System. Parts of the System.

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The Criminal Justice System

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  1. The Criminal Justice System

  2. Parts of the System • Police: respond to crime scene, gather evidence, and collect witness statements; conduct investigation and are responsible for the arrest and booking of suspects; booking is the process of recording an arrest and typically involves entering the suspect’s name, the charge, and the suspect’s fingerprints or photograph in the police blotter

  3. Parts of the System (cont.) • Courts: the prosecutor makes a decision on whether or not to charge the suspect; if no charges are filed, the suspect must be released; if charges are filed the suspect, now called the defendant, goes through the Pretrial and Trial Stages • Corrections: responsible for carrying out the sentences handed down by the court; also deal with parole, the conditional release of prisoners before they have served their full sentences

  4. Pretrial Stages • Initial appearance: defendant is given formal notice of charges and advised of his constitutional rights • Summary trial: held if the charge is a misdemeanor or ordinance violation; this is an immediate trial without a jury • If the charge is a felony, the judge must decide if there is probable cause to hold the defendant for a preliminary hearing

  5. Pretrial Stages (cont.) • At this time, the judge also decides on bail, a monetary guarantee deposited with the court to ensure that defendants will appear at a later stage in the criminal justice process • Preliminary hearing: used in felony cases only; during this time the judge decides if there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed the crime; if not, the suspect is released • In about half the states, the preliminary hearing is followed by a grand jury

  6. Pretrial Stages (cont.) • Grand jury: a group of citizens who meet to investigate charges coming from preliminary hearings and decide whether there is probable cause to believe that the accused committed the crime (called an indictment); if the grand jury fails to indict, the prosecution is dropped • In states without grand juries, the prosecutor charges the defendant with an information, a document that outlines the formal charges, the law violated, and the evidence to support the charge

  7. Pretrial Stages (cont.) • Arraignment: occurs after the indictment by the grand jury or the information is filed with the court; the purpose is to hear the formal information or indictment and to allow the defendant to enter a plea • 95% of defendants plead guilty in an arrangement called a plea bargain, whereby a specific sentence is imposed if the accused pleads guilty to an agreed-upon charge instead of going to trial

  8. Trial Stages • If a defendant pleads not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity, a trial date is set • There are two types of trials: bench trial and jury trial • A bench trial is a trial before a judge without a jury • In most states, it is the choice of the defendant to have a bench or jury trial • If found guilty, the judge will impose a sentence (in some instances the jury has input in sentencing)

  9. Sentencing • Factor that influence sentencing decisions: • 8th Amendment: prohibits cruel and unusual punishments • Statutory provisions: some crimes have mandatory sentencing guidelines as set forth by the legislature in that jurisdiction • Presentencing reports • Judge’s own personal characteristics

  10. Types of Punishment • There are 5 types of punishment: • Fines • Probation • Intermediate punishments (more restrictive than probation but less than imprisonment; ex: electronic monitoring) • Imprisonment • Death

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