From Arrest to Arraignment: A Journey Through the Criminal Justice Maze

From Arrest to Arraignment: A Journey Through the Criminal Justice Maze

The criminal justice process is the legal process meant to foster the enforcement of the law, demand justice, and establish the accused person’s rights. It covers investigation and arrest, trial, sentencing, and appeals of the accused or the suspect. The phases comprise several legal actors, including the judges, the prosecutors, the police, and, most critically, the criminal defense attorney.

A Calgary criminal defense lawyer is quite instrumental in safeguarding the rights of the accused, seeking justice, and fighting to serve the client’s interests in the best way possible. Without them, nobody can wade through the complexities of using the legal processes effectively to put up a strong defense against the prosecution and enforce justice and procedural fairness.

Arrest and Charges

Initiation of a criminal justice process often stems from an arrest by the police following the belief that the suspect has probably committed a crime. Probable cause is a suspicion grounded on facts and circumstances and an idea that a certain individual has committed a criminal offense.

After arrest, the suspect is apprehended and processed, implying that important records such as their name and the offenses they are being charged with, fingerprints, and images are taken. In this stage, the suspect holds the right not to say anything and the right to an attorney during interrogation, which are quite embraced in the Miranda warning. The first charges are normally quantitative, and charging decisions are made by the arresting officer or detective, but the prosecuting attorney can amend them.

Initial Appearance and Arraignment

An accused, after arrest, should be produced before a judge for an initial appearance, and this should be done within 48 hours of arrest. In this appearance, the judge advises the accused of the charges preferred against them and the rights of the accused and reviews the issue of bail.

Bail is a financial security measure for the accused’s appearance in court in the future. However, it can be refused for serious charges or for fear that the accused will flee. The first of these stages is the appearance, after which the accused is informed of the charges and may enter a not guilty, guilty, or no contest plea at the arraignment. The case proceeds to the pre-trial stage if the plea is not guilty. This stage is significant for both parties. The defender becomes acquainted with the materials the prosecutor possesses and begins to think over the actions to be taken.

Pre-Trial Procedures

Pre-trial has several vital facets, including discoveries, motions, and plea bargaining. Discovery is a process where the prosecution and the defense exchange accident reports, witness statements, prior contracts, government documents, and almost any evidence or information related to the case that is available to the other side. Such ones may include police reports, statements from witnesses, expert analyses, and other matters related to the trial.

This evidence is what defense attorneys critically focus on. What could be wrong or the violation of the defendant’s rights? Motions are formal, sometimes written and oral, requests to the court that may bar some evidence, dismiss charges, or transfer the case to another court. Another preliminary trial stage is bargaining when the defendant and the prosecutor negotiate the defendant’s plea. They could be found guilty of a minor offense in exchange for a lenient punishment. It may help reduce time and costs and, in most circumstances, assist in arriving at a verdict, avoiding a ‘run-through trial.’


If no plea bargain can be reached, then the case proceeds to trial. The meaning of the trial can be explained as an overall consideration of all the information provided by the parties of the conflict, mostly the prosecutor and the defender. Before the jury is empaneled, the defense and the prosecution undertake this process to get an unbiased jury. The trial has several stages: The arguments are named as the challenges and authorities, representations and substantiations, witnesses and appositions, tests and rebuttals, and summations.


The procedure is taken through the sentential stage after a verdict has been delivered in a trial where the defendant is convicted. Sentencing can be done right after the pronouncement of the verdict or on a different day if other reasons can complicate it. At the time of sentencing, the jurist considers various aspects such as the gravity of the offense, previous records of the accused, the effect on the victims, and any evidence and plea in mitigation by defense lawyers.

Punishments include imprisonment, fines, probation, community service, or other service sentences. Newer forms of criminal justice include the jury, which, in some countries, has the prerogative to allow victims to deliver an impact statement that outlines how the crime affected civil lives and or persuades the judge.


After getting a conviction and sentencing, the defendant can appeal for a higher court to review the decision. In the appeal process, whether legal mistakes were committed by the trial counsel and during the trial that prejudiced the results is considered. Reversible error usually provided as a reason for an appeal normally consists of the admission of improper evidence, mistrial, or incorrect instructions to the jury or counsel.

The appeals court reads over the transcripts and documents from the trial and briefs filed by both the appellants and the appellees and sometimes listens to arguments. If the appellate court believes there are major mistakes on the part of the lower court, it will set aside the conviction, call for a new trial, or change the given penalty. If the appeal is lost, the defendant may appeal to other upper appellate courts such as the state supreme court and the U.S. Supreme Court. The latter, however, only takes only a limited number of cases.


Apart from appeals, there are other forms of relief, which the post-conviction application includes, such as habeas corpus petitions, whereby the defendant seeks to challenge its confinement. This can include allegations of constitutional rights infringements, newly discovered evidence, or evidence of counsel incompetence.

The effects of post-conviction motion involve a new trial, sentence reduction, or the convict’s outright release. Further, parole and probation procedures are available for persons undergoing other forms of punishment apart from imprisonment. Parole is the conditional release of a prisoner in care and subject to supervision and adherence to certain rules, while probation enables a defendant to avoid imprisonment but continue living in society under certain directions at the court’s instance.

Final Thoughts

Every phase of the criminal justice process is rightly structured to provide justice and equal protection to the accused, besides punishing evildoers and delivering justice to the victims and the public. There is enormous pressure on the criminal defense lawyer, starting with the investigation stage and throughout the whole judicial process, whose aim is to fight for their client’s rights and, where possible, work for an acquittal.

About Top Legal Firm

Daniel Tan is chief editor of Top Legal Firm. Top Legal Firm is a free lawyers & law firm directory and legal blog that accept guest posts on wide range of topics. Contact Daniel Tan to publish your legal blog.

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