Due Process

1609 Words7 Pages
Due Process
Kelsey Kennedy
CJA 224
October 31, 2011
Austin Zimmer
Due Process
Introduction
The United States has a unique criminal justice system that stems from the unique rights granted to its citizens by the Constitution. The United States Constitution grants the most basic rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and no citizen can be denied these rights without due process of law. Due process is the way in which the criminal justice system ensures that the right person is punished for the right crime. This process includes certain rights of the accused and specific procedures that must be followed to the letter or the accused could be released without having punished for a crime he or she could have
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The preliminary hearing is then held which determines if the prosecution obtained enough evidence and has enough probable cause to hold a trial (Schmalleger, 2008). Discovery, which refers to the first time the defense is allowed to view the evidence against the accused occurs at this stage (Schmalleger, 2008). The next step is arraignment; this is the first time the defendant is seen by a judge with enough authority to hold a trial (Schmalleger, 2008). At arraignment, the indictment against the accused is read; the accused enters a plea of either guilty, not guilty or no contest (Schmalleger, 2008). The last step involving the court is adjudication, which plainly means a trial by jury (Schmalleger, 2008). The trial then proceeds until both sides have presented their case and the jury reaches a decision (Schmalleger, 2008). If the jury cannot reach a decision the judge can declare a mistrial and the case can be retried (Schmalleger, 2008). If the accused waives the right to a trial by jury, the court will hold a bench trial which is a trial conducted and decided upon by the judge (Schmalleger, 2008).
After the trial has concluded, sentencing begins. A presentence report is compiled, usually by a probation officer which is a collection of the offender’s family, business situation, emotional state, social background and criminal history (Schmalleger, 2008). The judge then uses the presentence
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