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Start of Criminal Process:

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.  

Right to Pre-Trial Release:

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:”

  1. Arson;
  2. Aggravated Assault;
  3. Aggravated Battery;
  4. Illegal use of explosives;
  5. Child abuse or aggravated child abuse;
  6. Abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult or aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult;
  7. Kidnapping;
  8. Homicide;
  9. Manslaughter;
  10. Sexual battery;
  11. Robbery;
  12. Carjacking;
  13. Lewd, lascivious or indecent assault or act upon or in presence of a child under the age of 16 years;
  14. Sexual activity with a child who is 12 years of age or older but less than 18  years of age, by or at solicitation of person in familial or custodial authorities;
  15. Burglary of a dwelling;
  16. Stalking and aggravated stalking;
  17. Act of domestic violence;
  18. Attempting or conspiring to commit any such crime;
  19. Home invasion robbery.

Speedy Trial:

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.

Right to a Jury Trial:

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.  

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