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A criminal prosecution against a person is started by the filing of a charging document with the court. This charging document accuses a person of having committed a criminal offense. For minor offenses, a charging document can be a notice to appear or a traffic citation. Serious criminal offenses are charged by the more formal indictment or information.
An accused usually obtains pre-trial release immediately after his arrest. The person usually is taken before a judicial officer for a first appearance within twenty-four hours of his arrest. This requirement applies only to an accused who is still detained; an accused who has obtained pre-trial release is not afforded a first appearance.
A defendant has the right to bail in all cases not involving capital or life offenses. A person accused of a capital offense or an offense punishable by life imprisonment for which the proof of guilt is evident or the presumption great is not entitled to bail as a matter of right.
The court may deny bail when a person has been charged with committing a dangerous crime. The following offenses may be considered as “dangerous crimes:”
The speedy trial rule requires that an accused person be given a trial within a pre-set speedy time. A person accused of a misdemeanor must be brought to trial within ninety days; A person charged with a felony must be tried within one hundred and seventy-five days.
A defendant does not have a right to a jury trial in traffic offenses. The exception is when the person is charged with a DUI offense. Twelve persons shall constitute a jury to try all capital cases, and six persons shall constitute a jury to try all other criminal cases.