What does Criminal mean?
A criminal is any person who has been charged and convicted of a crime, which is any action –overt, neglectful, or omission- which is a violation of state, federal or local law.
All criminal cases start with a criminal arrest, either the police have witnessed a crime, they have received a tip that a crime is in progress or has been committed, or they have evidence of a crime.
The person arrested for the crime is called the criminal defendant. They are taken into police custody and held for questioning. Police officers are responsible for filing police reports, which contain information about the alleged crime. These reports are then reviewed by the state prosecutor. If the state believes the case is strong they will charge the defendant with the crime.
At some point after the charges are filed, the defendant will attend their first court appearance, referred to as the arraignment. At the arraignment the defendant may plead guilty, no contest, or innocent. In most cases the defendant is released on bail or bond and must return to court at some point in the future for their trial.
What happens if I plead guilty to the charges?
Many defendants’ criminal cases never go to trial. In fact, it’s not unusual for a defense lawyer to work with their client and with the state to negotiate some type of plea bargain in exchange for a less serious charge or a reduced sentence.
If a defendant decides to plead guilty, the court will sentence them and assess an appropriate punishment for their criminal offense. After the guilty plea, the defendant is officially a “criminal,” although many criminals can later seal or expunge their criminal records and may never have to admit or disclose their criminal backgrounds.
Category: Criminal Law