An arrest occurs when a person has been taken into custody and is not longer free to leave. The use of handcuffs is not necessary. The key to an arrest is the exercise of police authority over a person, and that person's voluntary or involuntary submission. This usually occurs when a police officer observes a crime, has probable cause to believe a crime occurred or an arrest warrant has been issued.
Booking/Bail-After arrest a person is usually taken into custody and booked or processed. For minor crimes a person might be cited and given a date to appear. Bail is set to insure that you will appear in court. It is set by a schedule in each county. Do not miss your court dates. If you fail to appear, your bail will be lost and a new warrant will be issued for your arrest. If you cannot post or put up the necessary bail, you will be kept in custody. Instead of paying bail, you might be released on your own recognizance or "O.R." This means that you do not have to pay bail because the judge believes that you will show up for your court appearances without bail.
You have a right to be arraigned without unnecessary delay-usually within two court days after being arrested. During arraignment, a person is typically called before a criminal court judge or commissioner. At the arraignment, the judge will tell you officially of the charges against you. If you are facing jail time, you have a constitutional right to an attorney during this process. Your bail can be raised or lowered, or you be released on O.R., depending on the circumstances of the case. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you can plead guilty or not guilty at the arraignment. Once a plea is entered, certain legal rights take effect so it is important to get advice from an attorney prior to entering a plea.
Criminal cases are usually resolved through plea bargains, well before trial. In a plea bargain, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to one or more of the charges or a lesser charge in exchange for a more lenient sentence and or so certain charges are dropped.
Hearings are set for the prosecution to provide evidence to establish that the arresting officers have probable cause that a crime was committed.
Motions are brought by the defense and the prosecution to establish what evidence and witnesses will be introduced at trial.
During the trial, a judge or a jury will with find the defendant guilty or not guilty. The prosecution has the burden of proof in a criminal trial. Thus, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crimes charged.
During the sentencing phase, the court determines the appropriate punishment for the convicted defendant. In determining a suitable sentence, the court will consider a number of factors. The judge will consider things like the defendant's criminal record and the severity of the crime.
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