Cases bound over to the grand jury: If a person is arrested on a felony warrant and does not ask for a preliminary hearing, the case is automatically bound over to the grand jury after 30 days. If there is a preliminary hearing held, the judge will determine if there is sufficient evidence to bind the case to the grand jury. Being bound over to the grand jury means that the grand jury will make a determination as to whether there is sufficient probable cause to warrant further criminal proceedings.
The Criminal Process: The criminal process involves several steps. The first step being a criminal investigation and the last being either a dismissal of the charges or a conviction and sentence. Below is a list of the steps in a criminal process:
(l) INVESTIGATION - typically done by a law enforcement. The purpose is to gather evidence to identify a suspect and to support an arrest.
(2) ARREST - involves taking a person into custody who is suspected of committing a crime. The person is usually held until they can be presented before the court or allowed to make a bond and appear before a court to answer a criminal charge.
(3) PROSECUTION -
the institution and conducting of legal proceedings against someone in respect of a criminal charge. T
his process is done by either the district attorney or the attorney general's office. They have the duty of determining whether to charge a person with a crime by weighing many factors involved in a case.
(4) INDICTMENT - is presented after the grand jury has heard the evidence presented and feels that a true bill can be returned against an individual. An indictment is a charge which must be proved at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.
(5) ARRAIGNMENT - consists of reading the indictment to the accused and asking whether they plead guilty or not guilty to the charges.
(6) PRETRIAL DETENTION AND/OR BAIL - detention is when the accused is in custody prior to trial or the accused is released from custody on bail to show up in court when dates are set.
(7) PLEA BARGAINING - an agreement reached through negotiations between defense attorney and prosecutor. Generally, this means the accused agrees to plead guilty in exchange for a charge or sentence reduction.
(8) TRIAL/ADJUDICATION OF GUILT - a trial can be held by either a judge being the trier of fact (bench trial) or jury (jury trial). The standard of evidence for a conviction in a criminal case is guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
(9) SENTENCING - can consist of a fine, probation and/or a period of incarceration in a correction institution. Incarceration can be either in the county jail or department of correction. Probation can either be supervised by a probation officer or by the court.
(10) APPEALS - when either party is dissatisfied with the outcome of a case, an appeal can be filed so the case can be heard by a higher court.
DOCKET: Each judge in Circuit Criminal sets their own individual docket. If a case is set on the docket, the defendant should contact their attorney to discuss their case with them. Once an attorney is appointed or retained, all notices of court dates will be sent to that attorney. Also, any other information about a case will be sent to the attorney, such as discovery. Because discovery is not a part of the clerk's record, it must be obtained through the attorney appointed or retained in the case.