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The adjudication of a criminal case

Adjudication

The adjudication of a criminal case involves court processes. In plain terms, adjudication refers to the legal process by which a judgment is pronounced by the court to the parties in a case.  As with the law enforcement component of the criminal justice system, the courts are organized at federal, state, and special-jurisdiction levels.

Pretrial services-The adjudication process starts when the law enforcement body has submitted the police/arrest report to the prosecutor. The prosecutor, in turn, determines whether or not the incident will prosper into a criminal case, in which the suspected offender will be charged with the crime. It is not uncommon for the prosecutor to drop or dismiss charges altogether, for reasons that include: lack of evidence and weak police investigation. It is the prosecutor that takes the side of the victim and, accordingly, the state (society or community), which the crime has also affected.

Arraignment-If the prosecutor decides to press charges against a suspected offender, the adjudication process advances to arraignment. During arraignment, the suspect is read the charge/s filed against him or her. With the aid of a legal counsel, the suspect (now a defendant) enters a plea of either guilty or not guilty.

Trial- The arraignment progresses into trial to determine the guilt of the suspect (if the not-guilty plea was not entered). In the event of a guilty verdict, the offender is convicted and the court will determine the sentence.

A trial is characterized by an argument that has two sides: the prosecution and the defense. On the one hand, the prosecution represents the interests of the victim and , in effect, the society (or state) that the offender is suspected to have violated. On the other, the defense asserts the innocence of the offender and labors to get the offender acquitted.

A trial often results in an appeal, in which the disadvantaged side (prosecution or defense) will try to shift the advantage. In this instance, the case is elevated in a higher court, which either upholds or overturns the earlier decision.

Sentencing- A court conviction corresponds to a sentence, which is the penalty imposed on the offender who has been found guilty as a result of the preceding trial. The sentence is meted out by the judge, who follows prescribed guidelines, standards, and limitations in punishing convicts.

Death Penalty- Generally, United States laws permit the death penalty for convicts who have committed heinous crimes, although the practice of capital punishment is on a case-by-case basis.

In principle, the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1988 sentences to death all offenders convicted of homicide. But in practice, capital punishment is more an exception than the rule. For example, most of the convicted terrorists on death row have yet to be meted out their sentences.