The Steps of a Trial -through the eyes of Lil Wayne
Step 1: A crime is committed. • July 22, 2007: After a performance at the Beacon Theater, Lil Wayne is busted by NYPD for smoking marijuana near his tour bus.
The crime… • Upon inspection, a .40 Springfield Armory handgun is found “on his person”. • Lil Wayne is arrested for possession of a weapon and marijuana.
Step 2: The Arraignment • Arraignment is a hearing held within 72 hours of the initial arrest. • Charges are read to the defendant. • Defendant makes a plea: guilty, not guilty, not guilty by means of insanity, no contest, and double jeopardy. • Bail can be set or denied by the judge.
Step 2: Lil Wayne’s Arraignment • Lil Wayne’s arraignment was the next morning. • He was charged with second-degree illegal possession of a gun, which comes with a 3.5-15 year sentence. • He pled not guilty. • Bail was set at $70,000, which he paid and was released.
Step 3: Grand Jury Hearing • The Grand Jury Hearing happens a few weeks/months later. • The prosecution presents their case to a jury to determine whether or not there is enough evidence to bring the accused to trial. • The defense just sits there, they do not cross-examine. • If a majority of the jurors believe there is enough evidence, the suspect is indicted and a trial date is set.
Step 3: Lil Wayne’s Grand Jury • Lil Wayne was formally indicted by a grand jury in February of 2008, almost 7 months after the initial arrest. • This was due mostly to the fact that he was arrested three more times that year!
Step #4: The Trial • The trial date is set for a few months down the road to allow the prosecution and defense to work on the cases. • The defendant is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by his peers. • The burden of proof rests entirely on the prosecution. Only about 50% of all people arrested are eventually convicted.
Step 4: Lil Wayne’s Trial • His trial date was set for January of 2010 because the defense was trying to get a new Grand Jury hearing. • They had a hard time believing a person who was arrested in only his boxers could be in possession of a handgun. • They claim the handgun was in a gym bag near Lil Wayne, but not on his person.
Step 4B: Plea Bargaining • Plea bargaining can occur at any time during the legal process. • In fact, almost 90 of all cases are plea bargained. • It reduces the court’s caseload and usually results in a lesser sentence for the defendant.
Step 4B: Lil Wayne’s plea deal • Thursday, October 22, 2009: Lil Wayne agrees to a plea deal. • Instead of possession of a criminal weapon, he pleas down to attempted possession of a criminal weapon, which carries a 1 year sentence.
Step 5: The sentencing • After several delays, Lil Wayne was sentenced to one year in jail on March 8, 2010. • For good behavior, he would be released after 8 months. • He was sent to a special wing at Rikers Island to keep him away from the general population.
Freedom! • On November 4, 2010, Lil Wayne was released from prison.