Stages of a Criminal Case

scales-300x192If you have been arrested for a crime, you are actually at the beginning of what could become a long journey through a criminal justice system. Criminal prosecution usually develops in series of stages starting with arrest and ending at sentence . Many criminal cases usually end when the suspect accepts the plea bargain begin offered to him/her by the prosecution. In that bargain, the suspect can choose to plead guilty to the charged offenses in exchange for dismissal of related charges or a more lenient sentence. Below are the main stages of a criminal case.


A criminal prosecution usually starts with arrest by a police officer. An officer can arrest an individual if he/she observes an individual committing crime, or if the officer has reasons to believe that indeed a crime has actually been committed by that individual. An officer can also arrest a person when he/she has valid arrest warrant. The police officer will then book the suspect and after the booking process is complete, the suspect is then placed into custody. If the defendant has committed minor crime(s), he/she may be issued with a citation policy with instruction to appear in court of later.


The first thing that a suspect may want to know after being placed in a jail is how much it is going to cost him/her, to actually get out of jail. The suspect will only be released on bail of he/she agrees to honor all court proceedings. Bail can actually be granted to suspect just immediately after booking of later after hearing.


The first appearance in court after the suspect has been arrested is a hearing called arraignment. Depending on how serious the suspect crime is, he/she may actually have to wait until the arraignment to have bail set. During the arraignment, the judge normally read the charges to the suspect and the suspect can either choose to plead guilty to those charges or not.

Plea bargaining

Many criminal court cases are usually overwhelmed with cases and as result only 10% of cases normally succeed to go to trial. Most of the cases are usually resolved during the process known as plea bargaining. But the suspect must have something to bargain.

Preliminary hearing

At this stage, the prosecutor tries his/her best to convince the judge that there is enough evidence to show that the crime was actually committed and the suspect probably committed it. In some states, a grand jury system is normally used instead of preliminary hearing.

Pre- trial motions

Pre -trial motions are normally brought by the defense and the prosecution so as to resolve all final issues and establish what testimony and evidence will be admissible during trial.


At the trial, the jury or the judge will find the suspect guilty of not. The prosecution must actually prove beyond reasonable doubt that indeed the suspect actually committed the crime accused of. The judge or jury will then make the final decision after listening to both the opening and the closing statements. If by chance the jury actually fails to agree unanimously on the verdict, the case will be dismissed immediately or a new judge or jury will be formed. If the jury finds the suspect guilty he/she will be sentenced.


If the suspect is found guilty or he/she pleads guilty by him/herself, the jury will sentence the suspect for his /her crimes but there are very many factors that can actually determine if the suspect get either maximum or minimum sentence.

Appealing process

If the suspect thinks that legal error actually caused him/her to be convicted or sentenced unfairly, he/she has the freedom to appeal to higher court. Although successful appealing is very rare, it is possible.

Different Types of Criminal Acts

A crime is defined as any act that is contrary to legal law or code. Crime is unlawful act and it is punishable by the state. Crime occurs when someone breaks the law by an overt act, neglect or omission. Below are different types of crimes.


  • Aggravated assault -This crime occurs when a person unlawfully attacks another person for the purpose of inflicting aggravated or severe bodily injury. This type of assault is usually accompanied by use of weapon or by any other means that is likely to cause death great body harm.
  • Arson -Any malicious or willful burning or attempt to burn with or without intent to defraud a dwelling house, motor vehicle or aircraft, public building, personal property of another person among others.
  • Assault -Attempt to cause physical harm to another person either knowingly or recklessly but without the use of a weapon.
  • Burglary -The FBI defines burglary as the unlawfully entry to a structure to commit theft or felony. The use of force to gain entry is not needed to classify an offense as burglary.
  • Disorderly conduct -This crime occurs when someone tries to unlawfully breach peace.
  • Drug abuse violation -Violation of both local and state law on things relating to unlawful possession, use, sale, making and manufacturing of narcotic drugs, cocaine and their derivatives (like heroin, morphine, codeine), opium, marijuana, synthetic narcotic and dangerous non narcotic drugs.
  • Driving under influence -This is a crime committed when a person drives a vehicle when he/she is drunk or under the influence of narcotics or liquor.
  • Drunkenness -Offenses that relates to intoxicating or drunkenness but not including drinking under the influence.
  • Embezzlement -This is a crime committed a when an individual or persons misappropriate money or property that is entrusted to ones care, control or custody.
  • Counterfeiting and forgery -Making, uttering, altering or possessing with intent to defraud anything that is false but resembles that which is true. E.g. monetary not or documents.
  • Fraud -Obtaining or converting property or money by false pretense including use of confidence games or bad checks.
  • Gambling -Promoting, engaging or permitting an illegal gambling.
  • Hate/bias crime -This is a criminal offence committed against an individual, society or property that is motivated in part or in whole by the offender who is bias against a race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnic /national origin group.
  • Theft -Unlawfully taking property from the possession of another. It includes shoplifting, purse snatching, pocket picking, motor vehicle theft, bicycle theft and theft of motor vehicle accessories and parts.
  • Liquor law violation -Violation of laws that prohibits the manufacture, sale, furnishing, possessing or transporting of intoxicating liquor.
  • Rape -Forcing a girl/woman to engage in sexual activities without her will or consent.
  • Robbery -Taking or any attempt to taking anything that is of value from care, control or custody of person/persons either by force, threat, violence or putting the victim in fear.
  • Sex offenses -Offenses and statutory rape against chastity, moral, common decency and the like including forcible, voyeurism and forcible fondling.
  • Vandalism -Willful or malicious injury, destruction, defacement or disfigurement of any public or private property, either real or personal without the approval of the owner or individual having control or custody.
  • Weapons law violation -Violation of law dealing with regulatory weapon offenses including unlawfully manufacturing, possession or selling of deadly weapons, furnishing deadly weapons to minors or carrying deadly weapons.

Crime Definitions and Information

There are quite a number of actions that are deemed to be against the law, whether state or federal. While many people are aware of these actions, few know what actually constitutes each unique offense. Below is a comprehensive look at some crime definitions and information, the main aim being to provide a better understanding to each of them.  Kindly note that specific definitions and penalties may differ depending on your geographical location and the circumstances linked to your case.

Aiding and Abetting

This is a criminal offense of aiding, giving advice, persuading or otherwise helping another party in commission of a crime. In this context aiding is interpreted as helping another party with something while an abettor is a person who encourages or helps another party.  Examples of aiding and abetting include assisting an individual plan murder, offering advice on how to carry out fraud or assisting a person escape from a lawful custody.


This is defined as gaining access to a building or premises with the sole intent of committing a crime. Burglary is often linked with theft but gaining access to a building with the intention of committing other forms of crime like rape or sexual assault is also regarded as burglary.


moneyThis is a criminal offense of making duplicates, creating legal tenders or goods that are meant to pass as authentic. Counterfeiting crimes involve money but today’s counterfeiting accusations may also involve goods such as clothes, jewelry and computer software. Involvement in counterfeit goods and products is against the law and is regarded as fraud because it infringes patents, trademark and copyright laws. Creating replicas of credit cards is also regarded as counterfeiting.

Insider Trading

It is illegal to use important information which is not available or known by the public about a company’s stock or securities to trade. Any action to this effect amounts an insider trading crime. A financial director of company X who is well aware that the company was to be placed under receivership (and the public did not know this) is not supposed to use such information to trade or sell all his stock in the company let alone advising others to sell.


This is the criminal act of setting a fire to a dwelling, personal property or a forest intentionally. A person may commit this crime with an intention of committing fraud like insurance fraud or would commit it maliciously. An individual may execute arson in an effort to cover up another crime such as murder as well.

Vehicular Manslaughter

Also known as vehicular homicide, this crime happens when a person recklessly or neglectfully causes the death of another person. It may be described in simple terms as causing an unlawful death to another person while operating a motor vehicle. Auto accidents are bound to happen regardless of how careful a driver is. Therefore vehicular manslaughter charges are only applicable in instances where the driver was acting in a reckless manner with a wanton disregard to the lives of other road users.

While this is just a tip of the iceberg on many forms of crimes, the information provided here sheds light on a few crimes and what they entail. Be sure to source more insights on crimes definitions and information on legal websites and magazines and always do you due diligence before hiring an attorney.

Tips On Finding The Best Criminal Lawyer

police-lights-1024x682There are very many qualified criminal lawyers out there in the field and selection of the best lawyer is a challenge to many individuals who needs the services of such attorneys. This implies that for you to select the best from the many that are available in the market, you have to take your time and consider some of the tips that can allow you select the best lawyers. Are you one of the individuals who may need the services of such attorneys and challenged on how to select the best? Here are some of the tips that can guide you towards finding the best Lansing criminal attorney:

 1.  Check On The License That Particular Criminal Lawyer Possesses

There are very many attorneys in the market who operates without a license. You have to consider the lawyers with a valid practicing license from a genuine body. This implies that for that particular attorney to be given a practicing license, he/she must have met the minimum standards that are required by the quality assurance bodies. This will not only offer you professional legal services but will also ensure that you obtain quality services that will allow you overcome the challenges ahead of you. Besides, license is a proof of the genuine nature of the lawyer.

 2.  Make Referrals From The Experts You Know

An expert refers to an individual in the market who has been dealing with such lawyers for a longer period of time. He/she know all the procedures that are applied so as to select the best criminal attorney. They may be other lawyers or the clients who have been dealing with such lawyers. Experts can guide you on the procedures they have been applying or they can introduce you directly to a criminal lawyer they know. This will guarantee you quality services as they have all the necessary experience dealing with such lawyers.

 3.  Compare Several Criminal Lawyers Before Choosing One

In the process of finding the best criminal lawyer, you can compare several lawyers available before choosing on a particular one. You can do so by visiting their websites and checking on the services they have to offer verses the price range. After going through the websites of the available lawyers, you are to choose one with the lowest price range of the services they offer without compromising on the quality of the services they offer. This will allow you to get the best attorney who will satisfy your needs at that particular time.

 4.  Check On The Comments Of Other Clients On The Websites Of The Criminal Lawyers

This is another very effective method you can apply in the process of selecting the best criminal attorney. This is due to the fact that you will be getting information from the clients they have been dealing with that particular lawyer. If the clients are complaining, then you should consider looking for another criminal lawyer. However, if the comments of other clients posted on the lawyer’s website are positive, then that is one of the best lawyers you should consider. Therefore, the comments and reviews of the clients can guide you on the nature of services they offer.