Criminal Prosecution

Criminal prosecution is taking legal action against people who disregard the criminal laws of a state. Criminal laws are rules that govern against social norms. Once a crime is committed, criminal prosecution procedures are used to pass an indictment. In South Carolina once a crime has been identified, thorough investigations are done to get evidence that link the criminal suspect to the crime. A search warranty is issued to give the law enforcement officers the right to search the suspect’s premises or anything that is linked to the crime and to detain the suspects for interrogation (pre-trial detention).

This is into accord with the Fourth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution that states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall be issued, except upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. ” (Israel, Yale, & Wayne, 1993).

An arrest involves, informing the criminal suspects their rights to remain silent and to a counsel (Miranda Rights), searching them for any weapons or forbidden goods, booking them in to a jail house as they are photographed and their finger prints taken for recording in the police log. Also the suspects are informed their crimes. While in jail the suspects have a right to one phone call and if their crimes are not very serious, they may be released after a cash bail has been posted but under a promise to appear before a court magistrate on a specified date.

As the suspects wait for their first appearance before the magistrate, the law enforcement officer who arrested them makes a complaint against the suspects summarizing the content of the crime committed. The prosecutor reviews this document and gives it to the magistrate. If the evidence presented is not enough to place an indictment against the suspects the case is withdrawn and the suspects set free. First appearance before the magistrate should not take more than twenty four hours and more than seventy two hour if the suspects were arrested on Friday or on a weekend.

Once before the magistrate, the suspects are informed of charges against them and their rights. If the case is a felony, and the suspects do not have or cannot afford an attorney the court provides one for them. This is not necessarily done for minor charges (Israel, Yale, & Wayne, 1993). If accusations filed against suspects are found to have a probable cause, the magistrate sets bail for minor offense and sets a date for trial. This first appearance before the magistrate for minor offenses is known as an arraignment.

In an arraignment the suspects enter a plea of ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’. No bail is set for felony cases, especially if the suspects appear to be dangerous to the society. After the first appearance for a felony case a preliminary hearing follows, where the prosecutor is given a chance to present his accusations and the magistrate determines if there is need to continue with the case. In this stage witnesses from both sides are cross examined. In case there is presence of a grand jury, the prosecutor should convince the jury that the suspect has committed the crime.

If the jury passes a bill of no confidence the suspects are set free. If it passes a bill of confidence then the case proceeds to trial (Richardson, 1994). At the trial the prosecutor’s task is to prove that the suspect is guilty. The prosecutor may put less weight on the accusations so as to enter a plea of bargain with the suspects, since once the suspects acknowledges guilt, the case is closed and conviction done. Also, if evidence against the suspect is overwhelming, the defense attorney enters a plea of bargain on behalf of the suspects.

During the trial the suspects haves rights against self-incrimination. According to the U. S. Supreme Court this right, privileges the suspect not to answer official questions put to him in any other proceeding, civil or criminal, formal or informal, where the answers might incriminate him in future criminal proceedings ( Arkin, 1992). The decision of the trial jury should be the same. If a trial jury is not present the trial judge should make the decision. After conviction the suspects maybe set free depending on the basis of crime committed before sentencing is done.

During sentencing the culprit is protected by The U. S. Constitution’s 5th amendment. This clause prevents double conviction for the same crime. “Most states do provide the right to an appellate review of criminal convictions, to protect against trial court errors. However, many states limit their review of state court convictions by hearing only short oral arguments and issuing decisions without explanation. Federal statutes grant criminal defendants in federal court the right to appeal. Only one review is granted as a matter of right, and this is to a U. S. court of appeals.

Review of state and federal convictions in the U. S. Supreme Court is discretionary. ” (Richardson . E. J. , 1994) Word count: 870 Reference Site Arkin . M. M. (1992). Rethinking the Constitutional Right to a Criminal Appeal. University of California at Los Angeles Law Review 39. Israel, Jerold . H. Yale . K. and Wayne . R. L. (1993). Criminal Procedure and the Constitution: Leading Supreme Court Cases and Introductory Text. St. Paul, Minn. : West. Richardson . E. J. (1994). Eliminating Double-Talk from the Law of Double Jeopardy. Florida State University Law Review 22.