Investigation may include interviewing victim, witnesses,
suspects ... collecting physical evidence . . . visiting, viewing,
photographing, measuring crime scene ... identifying suspects through line-ups
Police Make An Arrest (or Request a Warrant)
When a crime is committed in a police officer's presence
---or he had probable cause to believe that certain misdemeanors or any
felony was committed that he did not see happen --- an officer may arrest
a suspect on the spot without an arrest warrant. The officer will
later submit a charging/warrant request to the Prosecuting Attorney, suggesting
potential charges to be authorized.
Warrant/Charging Request Reviewed
by Prosecuting Attorney
Most cases begin with a warrant request. This is generally the first time that the Prosecuting Attorney is involved in a case, unless he reviewed a search warrant, visited the crime scene, or consulted with the officers regarding their investigation. At this stage, the Prosecutor determines whether a person should be charged with a crime and, if so, what the crime should be. The Prosecuting Attorney must thoroughly review all reports and records concerning the case, including witness statements. The Prosecutor also reviews the suspect's prior criminal or traffic record. Occasionally, the reviewing Prosecutor sends the case back to the police to conduct additional investigation.
The Prosecutor can authorize the filing of a charge if he reasonably believes that probable cause exists that the suspect committed the offense. But, most Prosecuting Attorneys apply a higher standard --- whether he reasonably believes that he can prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt at trial with the information known at that time.
Suspect Arrested (if not already
The delay between the crime date and the defendant's arrest on a criminal charge can take any length of time (e.g., if the defendant's whereabouts are unknown, or if he/she has left the jurisdiction).
An arraignment is the defendant's first appearance before the Court. At the arraignment, the charges filed against the defendant in the complaint are explained and he is advised of the potential penalty. The Judge will also advise the defendant of his constitutional rights. These constitutional rights consist of the right to a trial by jury, the right to be represented by an attorney and the right to have an attorney appointed for him at no expense if he cannot afford an attorney, and his right to remain silent.
At the arraignment the Court will also consider
the issue of bond. Bond is for the purpose of insuring that the defendant
is present at all future court hearings. Bond may be one of two kinds:
personal recognizance: of the Court sets a personal recognizance bond the defendant signs the bond pledging his assets in the dollar amount set by the Court. The defendant is not required to post any money.
cash: if the Court sets a cash bond the defendant is required to post the amount of cash set by the Court in order to be released from jail. The defendant may also use a bail bondsman to post the cash for him.
The Court will also consider whether the defendant will
hire an attorney or have one appointed for him. If the defendant
meets certain financial guidelines, the Court will appoint the Public Defender
to represent him.