The Criminal Process
Trial by jury, instead of being a security to persons who are accused, will be a delusion, a mockery, and a snare.
-- Lord Denman
For a defendant, the criminal process usually begins at the time of arrest. An arrest indicates that the police have probable cause to believe that the person being arrested has committed a crime. Probable cause means that the police officer believes there is a "fair probability" that the suspect has engaged in criminal activity. Thus, the officer doesn't have to be certain that the suspect committed a crime in order to make an arrest. Probable cause may be developed by relying upon witness reports or observations of criminal activity or by conducting extensive police investigations into suspected illegal conduct.
Once arrested, the suspect is advised of his constitutional rights. These rights include the right to remain silent, the right to have an attorney present during questioning and the right to have an attorney appointed if the suspect is unable to afford one. The suspect is then booked, fingerprinted and photographed. As soon as possible after the arrest, the suspect is taken before a judge or magistrate and advised of the charges against him. At this time, the judge or magistrate may also make a determination concerning the pretrial release of the suspect. Depending upon the nature of the crime and the risk