A unanimous not guilty verdict.
When a panel of 6 jurors cannot collectively vote for acquittal or guilt a mistrial is declared. The case may be dismissed by the Judge or prosecutor (depending on the split), the case may be re-filed and started over again or the prosecutor may offer a much better deal to the defendant to make the case go away.
Not Guilty Plea
A plea by the defendant claiming innocence of guilt.
A plea by the defendant claiming guilt.
By issuing a plea of nolo contendere, or “no contest”, the defendant accepts the punishment without formally admitting that he was guilty. By doing this, he avoids the consequences of a guilty plea with regard to potential liability to other people for money damages.
A felony crime is punishable by one year or more in state prison. Sample felony crimes include drug possession/ trafficking/ burglury/ murder.
A misdemeanor crime is punishable by up to one year in county jail. Misdemeanor trials are held in the state’s lower court, sometimes referred to as County Court. (Names for these courts vary from State to State) A misdemeanor may include such crimes as drunk driving, disorderly conduct and shoplifting.
An arraignment is the process by which the defendant is read his rights and the list of charges against him is explained.
Pre-Trial Conference / Plea Bargaining
The pre-trial conference/plea is a formal setting where plea-bargaining occurs. The prosecution may offer alternative sentencing. The charge may be changed to a lesser charge. The number of felony counts may be dropped. A lesser punishment for the same charge may be agreed upon.
The process by which a defendant is tried on charges and considered guilty or not guilty. Defendants charged with serious misdemeanors and felonies may be entitled to jury trials. Minor misdemeanor charges may be entitled to trial by judge. The rules differ state-by-state.
Once the defendant has plead guilty or received a guilty verdict by way of trial, he will be sentenced. Sentencing guidelines differ State-to-State.
After a defendant has been found guilty by way of trial, the defense attorney may request a higher court to change the lower court’s decision.
An insurance policy to ensure the defendant appears at his next scheduled court date. It is cash or a cash equivalent. An attorney may bring a motion to reduce bail/bond at any appearance before the court. Bail/bond can be received by cash, check, property, or a bond, which is a guaranteed payment of the full amount of bail/bond. Once the defendant appears in court, the bail/bond money is refunded. In addition, bail/bond is sometimes waived if the court feels the defendant is a good risk, and therefore is released on his own recognizance.
The process of selecting a jury through questioning by attorneys. This is the time when the attorneys may set the tone of the trial. Many cases have been won or lost in voir dire.
Some states provide specific sentences based on specific crimes.
Many states do not provide specific sentences based on specific crimes.
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