From making bail after an arrest to plea bargain strategies and sentencing guidelines, this section walks you through every key step in a typical criminal case, and lets you know what to expect.
A not guilty verdict on all charges normally ends a criminal case—the prosecution cannot appeal an acquittal. A guilty verdict on some or all charges, however, doesn’t necessarily mean the case is over.
Restitution Law for Victims of Crime
Restitution is designed to compensate crime victims for their losses. Learn about the kinds of expenses and people that restitution covers.
What Is a Bail Algorithm? How Are Bail Algorithms Used?
Some U.S. jurisdictions are using advanced formulas to evaluate the risks that defendants pose. Judges weigh these evaluations when considering pretrial release.
Criminal Trial Procedures: An Overview
The many rituals followed in criminal trials have developed over centuries. America's common law heritage makes it possible for all states and the federal government to follow a largely uniform set of trial procedures, from jury selection to sentencing. Here are explanations of most of the things that will happen at a trial, in the order in which they occur, including jury selection, opening statements, cross-examination, motions to dismiss, and jury instructions.
The Bill of Rights provides certain rights to criminal defendants throughout the criminal process, from arrest to appeal.
Anyone accused of a criminal offense has the right to a public trial under the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
A plea bargain is an agreement between a defendant and a prosecutor, in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest (nolo contendere) in exchange for an agreement by the prosecution.
It’s not uncommon for those who’ve been accused of crime to plead guilty, only to later regret it. Whether it’s because of an unpredictably stiff sentence or “buyer’s remorse,” many defendants believe—rightly or wrongly—that they got a raw deal.
How Judges Accept and Reject Plea Deals
The lawyers agreeing to a deal isn't the end of the story: Judges must stamp the deal with its seal of approval.