GETTING TO KNOW THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

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1 Patricia A. DeAngelis District Attorney GETTING TO KNOW THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

2 AN OFFENSE IS COMMITTED There are three types of offenses that can be committed in New York State: VIOLATION MISDEMEANOR FELONY

3 The police are responsible for arresting individuals that have committed a criminal offense. The District Attorney s Office is responsible for prosecuting those individuals.

4 Violation A violation is defined as an offense for which a defendant can be sentenced to up to 15 days in jail. Examples of violations are harassment, trespass and disorderly conduct. A violation is not a crime.

5 Misdemeanor A misdemeanor is a crime. It is defined as an offense for which a defendant can be sentenced to up to a year in jail. Examples of misdemeanors are aggravated harassment, endangering the welfare of a child, petit larceny and third degree assault.

6 MISDEMEANOR ARREST Arraignment/Bail Conferences/Appearances Plea Trial Conviction Conviction Acquittal Hung Jury/Mistrial Sentencing Retrial Appeal

7 Felony A felony is a crime. It is defined as an offense for which a defendant may be sentenced to more than one year of imprisonment. Examples of felonies include rape, murder, and grand larceny.

8 FELONY ARREST Arraignment Bail is set Preliminary Hearing Grand Jury Indictment No Bill Return to lower Court Arraignment Conferences Pre-Trial Hearings Plea Trial Conviction Conviction Acquittal Hung Jury/Mistrial Sentencing Sentencing Retrial

9 An arrest takes place when an offense is reported to the police, or the police witness an offense and there is probable cause to believe that an offense has been committed. ARREST

10 ARRAIGNMENT The defendant (person who has been arrested) is brought to court and read the charge that they allegedly committed. The defendant enters a plea of guilty or not guilty. Orders of Protection may be issued by the Court at this time. The defendant may either retain their own attorney or one may be appointed by the court.

11 Bail is Set Bail is set by the Court and based on whether the Judge feels the defendant will show up in court on the scheduled days. The court also considers the defendant s character, employment history, financial resources, family ties and criminal history when deciding whether to set bail. Bail is set at the time of the arraignment. Bail is mandatory for misdemeanors crimes, but not felonies. If the defendant makes bail, the individual is released from jail and returns to Court on the next scheduled date. If the defendant does not make bail, the individual remains in jail.

12 PRELIMINARY HEARING If the defendant is in jail, this proceeding must be held within hours of the arrest. The District Attorney s Office must present evidence that a felony level crime has been committed. Sometimes the victim may testify. The Judge decides whether there is reasonable cause to believe a crime has been committed. If so, the defendant is held for grand jury action. Bail could be set or the defendant could be released pending the next hearing.

13 GRAND JURY The grand jury decides if there is enough evidence to charge the defendant with a crime. The jury is made up of 16 to 23 people who are sworn to maintain secrecy during the proceeding. The grand jury proceeding is held without a judge, defendant or defense attorney. However, a defendant charged with a crime has the right to testify before the grand jury as long as they execute a waiver of immunity.

14 The grand jurors hear evidence presented by the District Attorney and then decide whether the defendant should be charged with any criminal offenses. GRAND JURY

15 GRAND JURY Indictment/True Bill: The grand jury charges the defendant with the offense based upon the belief that there is enough evidence to prove a crime was committed. No Bill: The grand jury decides there was not enough evidence to prove a crime was committed. Prosecutor s Information: The grand jury decides that there was not enough evidence to charge the defendant with a felony, only a misdemeanor.

16 ARRAIGNMENT The defendant is brought before the County Court Judge and formally charged with the crimes for which he was indicted. Bail may be set at this time.

17 ARRAIGNMENT PLEA Guilty Sentencing Appeal Conviction Not Guilty Motions/Pre-Trial Hearings Trial Acquital Mistrial Sentencing Case may be retried Appeal

18 PLEA Not every case will go to trial. The District Attorney must consider numerous factors when deciding on a plea. These factors include victim input, the defendant s criminal history, the defendant s age and background and the nature and quality of the evidence. If the District Attorney s Office, the defendant and the Judge all agree to the plea and sentence, the defendant pleads guilty and there is no trial. NOTE: A DEFENDANT MAY PLEAD GUILTY AT ANY STAGE OF THE CRIMINAL PROCEEDING AND THROW THEMSELVES UPON THE MERCY OF THE COURT

19 TRIAL The District Attorney must prove BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT that the defendant has committed each crime for which he was indicted. A trial may be in front of a Judge (Bench Trial) only or in front of a jury consisting of the defendant s 12 peers. There are three possible outcomes: CONVICTION ACQUITTAL MISTRIAL/RETRIAL

20 The judge or jury may find the defendant guilty of some or all of the crimes for which he was indicted. CONVICTION

21 ACQUITTAL The defendant is found not guilty of the charges for which he was indicted. If the defendant is acquitted they are set free and can not be tried again (Double Jeopardy).

22 MISTRIAL The jury was unable to agree on a verdict (Hung Jury). The case may then be retried.

23 AFTER A PLEA OF GUILTY OR A CONVICTION AFTER TRIAL, THE DEFENDANT WILL BE

24 SENTENCING If the defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty the Court will order that the Probation department complete a presentence investigation (PSI) on the defendant. The Probation department will compile a comprehensive history of the defendant and ask the victim to submit a victim impact statement documenting how the crime affected them.

25 Sentencing, continued A sentence may include restitution, fines, community service, counseling, probation, incarceration in a jail or prison or a combination of one or more. At sentencing, the victim of the crime or their representative has the right to explain how they were affected by the crime. This is called a Victim Impact Statement. The prosecution, the defense attorney and the defendants can offer statements prior to the sentencing.

26 APPEAL A defendant has a right to appeal the conviction A defendant can waive the right to appeal as part of a plea bargain

27 CONCLUSION The District Attorney s office is responsible for prosecuting any individual that has been arrested for committing any offense. A case may be closed quickly if there is no trial, however if a case goes to trial it may last for up to or over a year. Each case is different and unique, and will be handled carefully in the pursuit of justice.

28 Patricia A. DeAngelis DISTRICT ATTORNEY, RENSSELAER COUNTY For further information, please contact The District Attorney s Office at the Rensselaer County Courthouse Troy, New York (518)

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