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Gain a basic understanding of the criminal court system

The criminal justice system isn't always easy to understand. People who are suspected of committing crimes and those who have been charged might have some questions about what they have to do. These questions might include some about their rights and their options. It is imperative that you understand a few basic points, no matter where you are in the process.

Police don't have to have solid evidence before they arrest someone. The requirement for arrest is probable cause. This means that the officer has enough evidence to believe that you likely committed the crime. There are times when you might be taken into custody without a charge. Typically, you can be held for 48 hours before they have to either arraign you or let you go.

The arraignment is when you will be formally charged with the crimes of which you are accused. This proceeding might also include a bail hearing that might give you a chance to get out of jail pending the outcome of your trial.

From there, you will likely have a preliminary hearing if you are facing a felony charge. This is when the judge looks over the case and determines if there is sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal trial. There are usually more court dates to attend if the judge determines that the case can go to trial.

Each step of the criminal justice process is an opportunity to work on your defense. You have to make sure that you understand the purpose of the proceeding so that you can determine how to handle it. Taking the process one step at a time while preparing for a trial is likely a good idea.

Source: FindLaw, "Common Criminal Law Questions," accessed Oct. 27, 2017

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