Criminal Justice Process Definition and Steps

Tue, 10/27/2015 - 00:32 -- Umair Khan

Criminal Justice Process Definition

Criminal Justice Process consists of practices and institutions of government for upholding the social control, deterring crime and sanctioning the ones who have violated the laws, and imply criminal penalties. The process of criminal justice varies from one state to another and there are formal and informal justice processes. Formal process is the one that is true by law and it provides protection to each member of the society via punishment, conviction and rehabilitation. On the other hand, the informal justice process is not governed by a legal body. The decision is made on the basis of the local, religious or the tribal leaders. In short, the justice is not carried out on the basis of rules given or established.

Criminal Justice Process Steps

Criminal justice procedure consists of some steps. This process is quite complicated and it is different for minor and an adult. There are 15 steps involved in the Criminal Justice Process which have been briefly discussed below:

Initial Contact. It is the step in which the police takes some action against the victim. The police contacts the victim and informs him about the violation he or she has committed.

Investigation. This step is carried out in order to gather more evidence about the suspect. The supportive evidence against the crime is conducted so that a legal arrest or action could be taken.

Arrest. In case the supportive evidence proves to be sufficient, the person has to say goodbye to his freedom as the police will officially arrest him or her.

Custody. Custody is taken when the suspect has been detained. The suspect also comes in custody when he or she is going to be questioned.

Charging. If there is enough evidence, then the case is turned to the prosecutor’s office for further processing. The prosecutor can decide if he wants to drop the case or continue it even after the complaint has been made formally.

Preliminary Hearing. It is also called grand jury which plays the role of a buffer for protecting the citizen from false prosecutions. In this hearing, the probable cause is discussed and then the judge makes the decision.

Arraignment. It is the step during which the defendant is brought to the court for the case’s hearing. The formal charges are explained, the defendant gets to know about his rights and trial date and considerations for the bail are decided.

Bail. It is the step in which the money bond is levied to make sure that the criminal defendant comes for the trial.

Plea Bargaining. In this step, the prosecution decides whether the charges will be reduced and lenient sentence will be given.

Trial. In case the negotiated settlement is not reached, the criminal trial is held before the judge or the jury

Sentencing. If the person is found guilty, he is returned to the court for the purpose of sentencing.

Appeal. In case some rights are bloviated during the trial, the defendant is given a new trial or sometimes released.

Correctional Treatment. After the sentencing, the offender is represented before the state or federal jurisdiction to decide whether he will serve the probationary term, prison or jail.

Release. As the period of sentence is completed, the offender is released and he is free to live his life without restrictions.

Post Release. In some cases, the offender is asked to spend some time in the community correctional center.

Criminal justice and law enforcement authorities make sure that the formal and informal justice process bring about justice in the society. None of the steps mentioned above are exhaustive. Some cases are simple, they don’t really have to go through all the 15 steps. All 15 steps are only meant for the complicated processes.