How Courts Work

Steps in a Trial

Bringing the Charge

Criminal charges are brought against a person in one of three ways:

  1. Through an indictment voted by a grand jury.
  2. Through the filing of an information by the prosecuting attorney (also called the county, district, or state's attorney) alleging that a crime was committed. Sometimes charges are pressed through the filing of a criminal complaint by another individual, which is essentially a petition to the district attorney asking him/her to initiate charges.
  3. Through a citation by a police officer for minor traffic offenses and the like. This procedure is usually used for certain petty misdemeanors and other minor criminal matters.

The charge must tell the time, date and place that the criminal act allegedly took place, the alleged involvement of the accused, and the details of the crime itself.

>>Diagram of How a Case Moves Through the Courts
>>Civil and Criminal Cases
>>Settling Cases
>>Pre-trial Procedures in Civil Cases
>>Jurisdiction and Venue
>>Pleadings
>>Motions
>>Discovery
>>Pre-Trial Conferences
>>Pre-trial Procedures in Criminal Cases
>>Bringing the Charge
>>Arrest Procedures
>>Pre-Trial Court Appearances in Criminal Cases
>>Bail
>>Plea Bargaining
>>Civil and Criminal Trials
>>Officers of the Court
>>The Jury Pool
>>Selecting the Jury
>>Opening Statements
>>Evidence
>>Direct Examination
>>Cross-examination
>>Motion for Directed Verdict/Dismissal
>>Presentation of Evidence by the Defense
>>Rebuttal
>>Final Motions
>>Closing Arguments
>>Instructions to the Jury
>>Mistrials
>>Jury Deliberations
>>Verdict
>>Motions after Verdict
>>Judgment
>>Sentencing
>>Appeals


How Courts Work Home | Courts and Legal Procedure | *Steps in a Trial*
The Human Side of Being a Judge | Mediation

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