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Criminal and Civil Court

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Presentation on theme: "Criminal and Civil Court"— Presentation transcript:

1 Criminal and Civil Court
The Basics

2 Steps in a Criminal Case
Investigation and Arrest: Either may happen first. It depends upon the crime.

3 Steps in a Criminal Case
Initial Appearance: Suspect is brought before a judge who reads them the charges If misdemeanor (minor crime punished by fine or jail less than 1 yr.) Plead guilty and pay a fine OR Plead not guilty and a court date is set If felony, (major crime, Seven deadly sins) a court date is set for preliminary hearing. Suspect will be either: Released OR Have a bail amount set OR Held in jail with no bail

4 Georgia’s "Seven Deadly Sins" law was passed in 1995.
The law mandates, for a first felony offense, a non-parolable sentence of at least 10 years in prison for Rape Armed Robbery Kidnapping Aggravated sodomy Aggravated sexual battery Aggravated child molestation, Murder

5 3. Preliminary Hearing or Grand Jury
Prosecution tries to prove they have enough evidence for a trial The defendant is not allow to present any evidence In a Preliminary Hearing they present it to a judge In a Grand Jury they present it to a jury of citizens If there is enough evidence an arraignment date is set If there is not enough evidence the case ends In some states the Prosecutor can skip this step by filing an “information”. This is the prosecutor officially testifying that he has enough evidence to go to court.

6 4. Arraignment Defendant enters one of four pleas: Not Guilty
Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity Guilty Nolo Contendere – “I will not contest.” not admitting guilt but will take the punishment (only in some states—yes GA) If Guilty or ‘Nolo’ is plead, judge decides a sentence If either ‘Not Guilty’ plea is given, a court date is set.

7 Both lawyers have opening statements Prosecution presents its evidence
5. Trial Both lawyers have opening statements Prosecution presents its evidence Defense presents its evidence Both lawyers have closing arguments Prosecution must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant is guilty.

8 6. Decision Judge can explain the law to the jury Jury deliberates in private Jury delivers verdict to the court---must be unanimous in nearly all criminal cases. If verdict is “Not Guilty” then defendant is free If verdict is “Guilty” or “Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity” then move on to sentencing.

9 7. Sentencing Judge determines sentence.
In some cases this may not happen right away In the case of a death penalty case, there is a second trial to determine the verdict A sentence can be: Time in prison Money Community Service Anything else the judge can think of (in some states)

10 Plea Bargaining In 90% of cases, before a case goes to trial, the Prosecution and Defense make a deal—plea bargain. Sometimes for a lesser offense. Sometimes for a specific sentence. The judge is told the deal, but the judge is under no obligation to follow the deal. However, usually they do.

11 Now to Civil Law --- COMMON LAW or CASE LAW

12 Disputes over what was agreed upon Disputes over nonperformance
4 Types of Civil Law Contract Disputes – Disputes over what was agreed upon Disputes over nonperformance

13 Disputes over who owns property Disputes over sales of property
4 Types of Civil Law 2. Property Law – Disputes over who owns property Disputes over sales of property

14 Marriages, Divorces, Child Custody
4 Types of Civil Law 3. Family Law – Marriages, Divorces, Child Custody

15 CaZt2xCY
4 Types of Civil Law 4. Torts or Civil Wrongs a. Intentional Torts – Deliberate acts that result in harm to a person or property Negligence – Harm caused to a person or property because of reckless or careless behavior CaZt2xCY

16 How much can I sue for? Usually, you can only sue for the amount of damage actually done. Part of the case will be proving the value and/or proving how much you lost Damages will only be awarded for ‘actual’ value/loss and not for ‘future’ or ‘possible’ gain However, don’t forget about “lost wages” and “pain and suffering”

17 5 Steps in a Civil Case Hire a Lawyer File a Complaint with the Court
The court notifies the defendant Pretrial Discovery Both sides gathering information and data Trial Much like a criminal case, except often there is no jury, only a judge Award Jury/Judge determines amount Usually Judge can modify a jury decision

18 The court is notified of the agreement and the case ends
Bargaining? Just like in Criminal cases, often civil cases end early with an agreement The court is notified of the agreement and the case ends Mediation – having a third party try to resolve the dispute In some courts this is required

19 Defenses Reasonable doubt - The state must prove the defendant is guilty “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”  The judge or jury cannot have any question as to the facts the state has presented in alleging the defendant committed the crime  If there is any doubt, then the jury must find in favor of the accused Alibi - An alibi is a credible source of evidence that a person accused of a crime was in fact in another place, and not at the scene at the time a crime was committed Insanity - The inability to distinguish right from wrong The person knows what they are doing is wrong, but due to mental illness they are unable to control their behavior

20 Defenses Self-Defense - The defendant doesn’t deny doing the act, but claims they were simply responding to the other person’s aggressive and threatening actions. Age – cannot be tried for a crime if 13th or younger at time the crime is committed (Georgia) Ignorance of the Law - Not a Defense - if ignorance of law was an excuse then any person charged with a criminal offense or subject of a civil suit can claim that he or she was unaware of the law in question and avoid liability

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