What are criminal cases and their process?

The process for criminal cases for felonies can vary, but they may be tried at the state level in Maryland. Federal crimes are tried with the U.S. attorney as a prosecutor and a grand jury for the decision. The United States is represented at trial, and the jury must determine if the evidence is great enough to convict the person being charged.

Initially, the U.S. attorney looks at the case to determine if there is enough evidence against the defendant for it to go to trial. For instance, a case of a bank robbery in Maryland may seem to have enough evidence to take someone to court, but if the image isn’t clear and it’s not certain who committed the crime, he may not have to go to trial. In some cases, the charges will have to be dropped.

When a person does have to go to trial, he appears before a judge. The judge will determine if the charge is great enough to put the defendant in jail until the trial or if he can be released on bail. At this point, the criminal defense attorney is present to make statements about the case. From there on, the attorney works with the individual to defend him or her, enter pleas, or to take plea agreements as necessary.

The United States courts claim that criminal cases typically only end in an arraignment. Around 90 percent or more people plead guilty instead of going to trial, the page claims, because if pleading guilty, the government may agree to drop charges or could recommend a lenient sentence. If the person being charged pleads not guilty, the case has to go to court and trial.

Source:  US Courts, “United States Courts: Criminal Cases” Jul. 31, 2014