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The Courts: Prosecution/Adjudication

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1 The Courts: Prosecution/Adjudication
Three phases in Adjudication Pretrial Events Trial Events Post-trial events

2 I. Key Pre-Trial Events:
Initial Appearance Other Appearances Preliminary Hearing Grand Jury Hearing Information Indictment Arraignment Other Pretrial Hearings

3 Initial Appearance: Jailed defendant brought before judicial officer (magistrate or lower-level judge) Must occur without delay after arrest & detention Defendant is informed of charges Defendant is informed of legal rights (including Miranda & right to counsel) Initial decision on pretrial detention & bail Identification of other special conditions

4 Preliminary Hearing: A “Probable Cause” hearing to provide judicial review of decision to charge (complaint) Usually heard in lower-level court within a few days or few weeks after arrest & initial appear. Prosecutor must show “probable cause” to believe that crime occurred and accused did it Present evidence, witnesses, & documents Defense may challenge evidence & cross-examine An adversary proceeding but not a full-blown trial Judge decides if probable cause to proceed To “bind over” the defendant for prosecution

5 Preliminary Hearing (cont):
In felonies, no plea is entered at preliminary hearing (court lacks general jurisdiction) BUT, if charges reduced to misdemeanor level, final disposition may occur at this point Preliminary hearings often heard in lower courts Strong incentive for on-the-spot plea bargaining Preliminary hearing may be waived by defendant, but this can be an important point to challenge the state’s case

6 Grand Jury: A sitting panel of 12 to 23 citizens serving for specific term to provide “probable cause” review on prosecutor’s decisions to prosecute Prosecutor presents a Bill of Indictment to the Grand Jury Presents evidence and questions witnesses before the grand jury (in closed proceedings) Right to counsel does not apply in grand jury If probable cause is established, then grand jury returns a “true bill” of indictment Which occurs most of the time

7 Arraignment: 1st Court Appearance to enter formal plea Possible pleas?
Not Guilty (entered by accused or court) Guilty (must be voluntary and with factual basis) No Contest (nolo contendere) Non-plea (“standing mute”) Other pleas: NGRI Also arrange for Pre-trial release & counsel Schedules future legal proceedings Initial plea might later be withdrawn/changed

8 Other Pretrial Events = Hearings on Pretrial Motions, such as:
Dismissal of charges Suppression of evidence or confession “Discovery” of prosecutorial evidence Change of venue Change of personnel (judge, lawyer) Determination of competence Severance of cases or defendants Continuance Change in pretrial detention/bail

9 Three Very Important Pretrial Processes:
Pretrial Detention vs. Release Pretrial Diversion (into alternative resolution) Plea Bargaining

10 A. Pretrial Custodial Status
Pretrial status alternatives: Liberty (pretrial release from jail) Conditional liberty (conditional release) Detention (pretrial incarceration)

11 A. Pretrial Status of Accused
What are the constitutional guarantees regarding pretrial release? No absolute right to bail Constitution merely prohibits setting “unreasonable bail” Bail decision is intended to address two concerns: Defendant’s presence at trial Protection of public safety Note: defendant = not convicted yet

12 A. Pretrial Status of Accused
Securing pretrial release – Methods: Release on Recognizance (ROR) Conditional Release Secured bail (cash or property) By offender By others Preventive Detention – denial of any bail Legally more controversial Applied selectively Applied to unconvicted persons Not necessary in most cases (?)

13 A. Pretrial Status of Accused
Conditions of Pretrial Detention Jail = all-purpose warehouse for: Unadjudicated defendants pre-trial Convicted misdemeanants serving time Convicted Felons under appeals Other disorderly persons Note: “jail” different from “prison” Personal impacts of Detention Discomforts & Dangers of jail Loss of social contact & resources Loss of employment & income “Punishment by imprisonment” even if acquitted

14 A. Pretrial Status of Accused
Effects on case development? Case preparation is hindered Impact on jury perceptions Motivation to bargain & plead guilty Correlation with case outcomes? Greater likelihood of guilty pleas Greater likelihood of conviction Greater likelihood of incarceration

15 B. Pretrial Diversion: What is it? What does it involve?
Suspending or dropping formal prosecution in exchange for offender doing a treatment alternative If treatment is satisfactorily completed then no additional prosecution occurs Prosecution may be reinstated if offender fails to fulfill alternative treatment requirement Note difference between: Informal diversions (discretionary acts) Formal diversions (formalized programs)

16 B.Why is Pretrial Diversion used?
Basic idea = some offenders/cases are better resolved through non-CJS procedures without invoking the criminal law & punitive sanction Avoid negative effects of criminal label Some cases need treatment not punishment (effectiveness) Resources saved for serious cases Use threat of prosecution as “motivator”

17 Felony Cases Adjudicated
(100) Dismissed (25) Guilty Pleas (65) Trials (3) Diverted/deferred (7) Guilty (2) Acquittal (1) Convicted/Guilty (67) Probation (19) Prison (21) Jail (27) (Felony Cases in Urban Counties, 2002)

18 C. Plea Bargaining What is it? What does it involve?
Negotiated disposition where defendant does not contest guilt (usually guilty plea) in exchange for concessions by prosecutor May involve more than merely pleading guilty: Full accounting of criminal offense and responsibility Provide additional information about other crimes or offenders (incl. testify in other cases) Non-contest of specific facts or issues Waiver of some constitutional rights

19 Plea Bargaining What kinds of prosecutorial concessions?
Charge reduction (in level or number) Sentence reduction (recommendations) Length of sentence Conditions of confinement Reduction in severity of criminal label Stipulation of facts of the case Not invoke extra considerations Charge or Sentence reductions for co-defendants

20 C. Plea Bargaining Where and when does it occur?
Mostly in pre-trial stage In court room or in prosecutor’s office May occur at jail Usually initiated by defense counsel Does not occur during actual court proceedings in pretrial or “on-the-side conferences” No specific or universal protocol An American invention?

21 Plea Bargaining The advantages of plea bargaining
Reduction in costs (in time and effort) Less time taken Less trouble and cost Management of large caseloads Reduction in uncertainty It guarantees the outcome It provides some degree of control Individualization of cases Allows offender to acknowledge guilt

22 Plea Bargaining What legal issues are involved?
PB is neither sanctioned nor prohibited in constitution or statutory law (but case law allows it) Guilty plea forfeits certain constitutional rights Guilty plea may impact appeals & civil cases Bargains are mostly off-the-record & implicit May punish defendants who insist on trial Longer sentences for trial convictions

23 Figure 9.6: Sentencing Outcomes for Guilty Pleas.
Fig. 9-6, p. 230

24 Plea Bargaining Why is it controversial?
It encourages defendants to forfeit rights Allows dangerous offenders off too easily May induce innocent persons to plead guilty Off-the-record nature encourages misconduct Lack of oversight short-circuits due process Encourages a “Culture of Bargaining” Leads participants to view each other negatively Leads to cynical view of the justice system Encourages over-charging by prosecutors

25 Plea Bargaining The Regulation of Plea Bargaining
Abolition of plea bargaining? Alaska California Regulation and standardization Pretrial conferences Prosecutorial rules & policies Statutory limitations (sentencing; charging)

26 I. The Future of Plea Bargaining?
Note the ubiquity of the practice In the U.S. Spread to other countries and legal systems Likelihood any large scale changes in plea bargaining? Unlikely to disappear or greatly diminish May transform into other procedures that look different but have the same outcomes (the Whack-a-Mole problem due to discretion)

27 Felony Cases Adjudicated
(100) Dismissed (25) Guilty Pleas (65) Trials (3) Diverted/deferred (7) Guilty (2) Acquittal (1) Convicted/Guilty (67) Probation (19) Prison (21) Jail (27) (Felony Cases in Urban Counties, 2002)

28 If accused pleads “not guilty”, guilt must be decided at trial
The Trial Process: If accused pleads “not guilty”, guilt must be decided at trial Trial is set up an adversary process or legal battle Contested according to specific rules (“due process”) Attempt to equalize the battle between state & defendant Truth will emerge from the contest 3 of 3

29 The Legal Content of “Due Process”:
Presumption of Innocence Strict standard of proof required Freedom against self-incrimination Right to speedy & public trial Right to legal counsel Right to confront witnesses & evidence Right to compel witnesses & evidence Right to unbiased trial by jury Requirement of competence Right to appeal conviction Freedom from double-jeopardy 3 of 3

30 The Trial Process: Two forms of trials: Jury Trial Bench Trial
This means two extra steps in trial process Jury selection Jury deliberation Bench Trial Right to a trial by jury is waived Only a judge hears the case and renders a verdict 3 of 3

31 Types of Trials: How Often? Which types?
Insert fig 9.5 Rates of Plea Bargaining 4 of 6 1 of 2 31

32 The Jury System Based on the presumption that justice is ensured when community judges guilt Jury trials mostly unique to the Common Law system (and to the United States) About 80% of all jury trials occurring in the world take place in the U.S. Yet jury trials in the U.S. seldom occur Jury trial = example of “justice defined by a rare event” 1 of 3

33 How are juries selected
The master jury list is made up of all eligible jurors in a community (drawn from some existing list – e.g.,registered voters) The first step = summon the venire (or “jury pool”) people who are on jury duty Next step is = selection of the “jury panel” for case (from whom actual jury is picked) Voir Dire – questioning of prospective jurors from the panel to select the “sitting jurors” for that trial

34 Jury Selection (cont.) Based on the Voir Dire, the attorneys will ask to exclude some potential jurors Challenges for cause – exclusion based on specific reasons related to bias Peremptory Challenges – exclusion without specifying any specific reasons Peremptory challenges may not be used to systematically by gender or race

35 Jury Deliberations: Jury is first given specific instructions to follow in reaching a verdict in the case The jury is isolated while deliberating Jury may be sequestered if deliberations take longer or will be influenced by outside factors Jury’s task of reaching a unanimity compels an active deliberation & persuasion process Jury may “nullify the law” when it feels justice is compromised by literal application Failure to reach unanimity  hung jury  mistrial


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