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The Anatomy of a Criminal Case. Government – Libertyville HS. Initial Proceedings. Crime committed Police investigation Search warrant request Made to judge Police ask permission to search place or person 4 th Amendment requires probable cause to search (or arrest) someone

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The anatomy of a criminal case

The Anatomy of a Criminal Case

Government – Libertyville HS

Initial proceedings
Initial Proceedings

  • Crime committed

  • Police investigation

    • Search warrant request

      • Made to judge

      • Police ask permission to search place or person

    • 4th Amendment requires probable cause to search (or arrest) someone

      • PC = facts that would lead a reasonable person to believe that search is justified

Federal grand jury
Federal Grand Jury

  • All felonies under federal law require an indictment from a grand jury to make arrest

    • 23 citizens on GJ

    • Only prosecution presents evidence

    • PC based on evidence = issue indictment

    • Majority vote to indict

    • Good prosecutor can…


  • Three bases for an arrest

    • Police officer personally observes crime

    • Police officer has probable cause for arrest

    • Arrest warrant executed for arrest

THIS is probable cause for an arrest…


  • First courtroom appearance of defendant (accused)

  • Defendant’s rights are explained

    • Told criminal charges against him / her

    • Asked if he/ she needs an attorney, if facing jail time

    • Asked to enter plea (G-plea agreement; NG = trial)

    • Bail set

Us district court trial
US District Court Trial

  • Types of trials

    • Bench: judge considers issues of fact and law

    • Jury trial

      • Judge considers issues of law

      • Jury considers issues of fact

    • Defendant chooses what kind of trial to have

Us district court trial1
US District Court Trial

  • Evidence presented

    • Witness testimony

    • Expert testimony

    • Written evidence

  • Prosecution case

    • Prosecution presents case against defendant

    • Prosecution must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that defendant is guilty (99% sure)

Us district court trial2
US District Court Trial

  • Defendant’s case

    • Defendant does not have to prove anything

    • Defendant (accused) doesn’t even have to testify!

    • Generally D case is to poke holes in prosecution case

  • What is at stake in criminal case?

    • LIBERTY!

    • That’s why the proof is so high

Us district court trial3
US District Court Trial

  • Jury deliberations

    • All twelve jurors talk about case

    • Must be unanimous decision

  • Standard of proof

    • Criminal = Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (99%)

    • Civil = preponderance of the evidence (51%)

Us district court trial4
US District Court Trial

  • If a person is found guilty, then he / she has a right to an appeal

Us circuit court of appeals
US Circuit Court of Appeals


    • Hearing on legal issues only

    • Three justice panel

  • Process

    • Each side writes legal brief explaining what legal mistakes were made (or not made) at trial

    • Each side makes oral argument before justices

Us circuit court of appeals1
US Circuit Court of Appeals

  • Appellate decision

    • Majority opinion

      • Two or three justices agree on decision AND legal reasoning for decision

    • Concurring opinion

      • At least one justice agrees on decision but disagrees on legal reasoning for decision

    • Dissenting opinion

      • One justice disagrees with majority on decision, and gives reasoning for dissent

Us circuit court of appeals2
US Circuit Court of Appeals

  • Possible outcomes on appeal

    • Uphold conviction = person stays in prison

    • Conviction overturned = person is set free

    • New trial ordered = person stays in prison but a new trial takes place because of some legal mistake made at original trial

Us circuit court of appeals3
US Circuit Court of Appeals

  • If a person’s conviction is upheld, then person writes a “Writ of Certioari” asking US Supreme Court for a further appeal; if four justices agree to hear case (“Rule of Four”) they “grant cert” and appeal goes forward

Us supreme court
US Supreme Court


  • Process

    • 9 justices

    • Hear cases from October to June

    • Hear two cases per day, three days per week, for two weeks each month

    • Rest of time spent researching, writing decision


  • As of December 31, 2010

    • 7.2 million adults under correctional supervision (probation, parole, jail, prison)

      • 2,266,800 adult prisoners held in federal or state prisons & jails

      • An additional 4.9 million adults on probation or parole

    • 70,792 juveniles in detention


  • Per 100,000 US Residents (2010)

    • 4,347 black male inmates (260 black female inmates)

    • 1,755 Hispanic male inmates (133 Hispanic female inmates)

    • 678 white male inmates (91 white female inmates)

  • Cost

    • About $74 billion spent on corrections

      • Avg - $30,600 / inmate