A plea-bargain is frequently attained at this time in order to circumvent a trial. In the event that a plea-bargain is reached, the case does not move forward to a trial but failure to offer enough evidence to establish a plea bargain will mean that the case goes on to trial (Criminal Justice System Handbook, 2009).
Trials consist of a sequence of proceedings where the prosecutor presents evidence which will be used to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In felony cases, the defendant is given chances to admit their innocence but there are also times where they are presented that they may dispute the validity of evidence that has been presented by the prosecutor. Felony cases normally entail the services of a jury who listen to the case proceedings together with the judge and then after careful assessment of the evidence that is presented; they make judgment on whether the person accused is guilty of committing the crime or not (Steps in the Criminal Justice Process, n.d.).
The opening remarks which are read at the arraignment are read again before the hearing begins. The presentation of evidence includes such things as direct evidence from key eyewitness as well as evidence that is obtained from the site of crime. This is all presented to the judge and jury. Likewise, circumstantial evidence is presented which connects the defendant to the crime. The constitution affords protection for the accused in the event that the evidence is tampered with by either members of the government or the public. "Any form of contamination of the evidence results in nullifying the evidence such that members who carry out investigations need to be cautious so as not to tamper with any relevant evidence" (Steps in a Trial, 2012).
Additional evidence is then presented by cross and direct examination of witnesses where both sides ask questions to the witnesses which are not leading unless during the cross-examination. The fifth amendment of the United States constitution stops a person from testifying against themselves so they are usually not questioned during the hearing. State law says that after all witnesses have presented their evidence to the court that both sides come together without the jury in order to go over the details of evidence that has been provided. This is all done in the presence of the judge. "If one side is not satisfied with the proceedings, rebuttal of the defense begins where witnesses comment and provide more evidence on the evidence which is presented by the defense. The jury is also given a chance to go over the evidence and at some point the judge gets to hear the verdict of each juror such that they are able to obtain the opinion of each one of them" (Steps in a Trial, 2012).
Sentencing of felony criminals
Sentencing is frequently left to judges who may ask for reports form probation officers. This helps in explaining the behavior and conduct of the accused. Felonies require mandatory sentencing but the judge in charge of the case has the final say in what sentence gets imposed depending on the convicted person's statement during sentencing. Felony cases require a sentence that lasts for at least one year although the judge may seek the alternative of probation depending on past actions of the person. Nonetheless, some sentences also include a fine, probation, a period of incarceration and close supervision for a period of time (Steps in a Trial, 2012).
Appeals are utilized to retry a case on the argument that there were errors in the judgment but it does not apply to instances where the defendant thinks he was unjustly sentenced. These kinds of cases are filed by the individual lawyers but the case is handled by an appellant judge who reassesses the case while no new witnesses or evidence is presented (Criminal Justice Process, n.d.). Appeals by the prosecution after a verdict are not usually permitted for the reason that the U.S. Constitution prohibits a person from being tried twice for the same crime. This is known as double jeopardy. Criminal defendants convicted in state courts have an additional protection in that after they have used all of their rights of appeal at the state level, they may file a writ of habeas corpus in the federal courts in an effort to show that their federal constitutional rights have been violated. "An appeal is not a retrial or a new trial of the case. The appeals courts do not typically consider new witnesses or new evidence. Appeals in criminal cases are typically based on arguments that there were errors in the trial's procedure or errors in the judge's understanding of the law" (Steps in a Trial, 2012).
The criminal justice process of trying a felony is quite complex and it offers very few occasions for a defendant to save themselves from going through the entire process. Even though, at the beginning stages there are quite a number of chances to avoid the harsh sentences that are associated with committing felonies, most state and federal laws call for strict measures in order to decrease the rate of anxiety in society. The multifaceted system therefore, provides a very wide-ranging investigation stage in order to look into the committed crime in order to figure out who did it and punish them appropriately. The entire system allows for many checks and balances in order to make sure that only guilty people are convicted and innocent people are set free.
Criminal Justice. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/migrated/publiced/practical/books/famil y_legal_guide/chapter_14.authcheckdam.pdf
Criminal Justice System Handbook. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.nycourts.gov/litigants/crimjusticesyshandbk.shtml
Criminal Justice Process. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.courtwatchflorida.org/uploads/Training_-_Criminal_Justice_Process.pdf
Steps in the Criminal Justice Process. (n.d.). Retreived from http://sao.co.sarasota.fl.us/legal.htm
Steps in a Trial. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/resources/law_related_educatio
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