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Courts at Work. Criminal cases An adult criminal case has many steps It usually is not completed in one day, especially felony cases The first step is.

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Presentation on theme: "Courts at Work. Criminal cases An adult criminal case has many steps It usually is not completed in one day, especially felony cases The first step is."— Presentation transcript:

1 Courts at Work

2 Criminal cases An adult criminal case has many steps It usually is not completed in one day, especially felony cases The first step is the arrest, when you are taken into police custody on suspicion of a crime If the crime is minor, instead of arrest, a summons is issued. It orders either a fine to be paid or a court date.

3 Tell it to the judge Soon after the arrest, the police must present the person arrested before a magistrate or justice of the peace. This is called a writ of habeas corpus A Magistrate is an officer of the court who handles the lesser work of judges The police must show probable cause, or good reason to suspect that you could be guilty of the crime All suspects are considered “innocent until proven guilty”

4 What to do with you now? The magistrate can make multiple decisions about you If he judges there was not probable cause, he can let you go If he believes there was probable cause, he has a few options If the charge is not too serious or you have a clean record, he could set bail for you Bail is an amount of money you pay to get out of jail until your trial, you get it back when you show up for the court date The amount of bail must fit the crime. This is guaranteed by the Eighth Amendment

5 Lock ‘em up! If you cannot afford bail, you can use a bail bondsman. You pay them 10% of your bail to get out, but you don’t get it back If you don’t show up for your trial, they will come find you, and they won’t be happy If you are charged with a very serious felony or you have a record of not showing up for court, you can be held in jail until your trial This is always the case with a capital crime, one which carries the death sentence Whatever they decide, they will also set a date for your arraignment

6 Arraignment In an arraignment, the person accused is brought before a judge and enters their plea A plea is declaration of guilt or innocence by the accused The judge also sets a court date for the trial. There must be a “speedy trial” date as guaranteed by the 6 th Amendment Sometimes a plea bargain will be arranged. The accused agrees to plead guilty in order to receive a lesser punishment

7 The Trial The trial decides the guilt or innocence of the accused In a trial, the person accused of a crime is known as the defendant The defendant’s lawyer is known as the defense attorney The prosecutor is the lawyer for the government who attempts to prove the defendant guilty In state trials the prosecutor is called the Commonwealth Attorney, in federal trials he is known a the U.S. Attorney

8 Jury Anyone? If jail time is a possible punishment, a defendant has the choice of a jury trial or a bench trial In a bench trial, the judge decides guilt or innocence In a jury trial, a group of your peers decides If a jury is used, they are selected from a group of citizens randomly chosen Both the prosecutor and defense attorney try to pick a jury that will favor them

9 During the Trial Both sides will call witnesses, people who have information to tell about the case If necessary, a subpoena can be issued, a court order forcing someone to appear in court. Only the defendant cannot be forced to testify (Fifth Amendment) The witnesses give sworn testimony, in which they promise to tell the information about what they know under penalty of law The prosecutor and defense attorney also present evidence, items and documents which are used to prove their case

10 The Verdict The verdict is the final decision of the court The court may rule guilty or not guilty In a jury trial, all jurors must agree to find someone guilty. If they cannot agree it is a “hung jury” A guilty decision can only be announced if the prosecutor has proven his case, “beyond a reasonable doubt”

11 GUILTY! If a guilty verdict is reached, the jury usually recommends a punishment The official punishment is given out by the judge at the sentencing hearing If the defendant maintains his innocence, he can appeal to a higher court. The higher court can re-consider his case If there is a not guilty verdict, the government may NOT appeal. That would be “double jeopardy”, banned by the Fifth Amendment

12 Juvenile Law Criminal cases involving juveniles are handled differently Juveniles are those under age eighteen In adult cases, the court’s goal is to punish the guilty In juvenile cases, the court’s goal is to rehabilitate, or change the behavior of the guilty child

13 Tried as an adult However, if a juvenile commits a crime that would be a felony for an adult, they can be tried as an adult. In Virginia anyone who is fourteen or over can be tried as an adult They can even receive the death sentence if the crime is terrible enough and they are at least a teenager, although it is uncommon for those below age sixteen Other than Texas, Virginia has executed more juveniles than any state since 1973

14 Juvenile Hearing Juveniles always receive a bench trial. Juries are never used in Juvenile court A juvenile’s parents must be kept informed of all proceedings The cases are held in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court All cases are held in private, no one is allowed in the court who is not part of the case. The result is also private All records are kept private as well

15 Juvenile Punishment Judges have greater latitude in sentencing, meaning they can decide the punishment to fit the individual as well as the crime If not judged to be a threat, they can be sentenced to community service, counseling, probation, or other punishment Juveniles can be sentenced to stay in a detention home if they are judged to be a danger to themselves or others They can be held there until age 21 if necessary

16 Civil Cases Civil cases are conducted somewhat differently from criminal cases Instead of a trial, civil court proceedings are known as a lawsuit The person who files the lawsuit is known as the “plaintiff” The “Defendant” is the person being sued

17 Your day(s) in court Civil lawsuits may have a judge or jury decide the verdict. This is guaranteed by the Seventh Amendment. The defendant gets to choose. There are witnesses and evidence, just like a criminal trial The winner is decided by a “preponderance of evidence”; “beyond a reasonable doubt” is not necessary in civil matters. If the plaintiff wins, damages are awarded Either side can appeal the decision to a higher court if not satisfied

18 The Constitution protects YOU Whatever type of case, the Bill of Rights of the Constitution guarantees defendants some basic protections: No unreasonable searches (4 th ) No excessive bail (8 th ) Speedy trial guaranteed (6 th ) Trial by jury guaranteed (6 th, 7 th ) No Self-Incrimination (5 th ) Right to an attorney (6 th ) No Double Jeopardy (5 th ) No Cruel and unusual (8 th ) punishment

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