The Criminal Justice System

  • The Criminal Justice System
  • Arraignment & Pretrial Motions
  • How to Release an Inmate from Jail
  • Types of Bail
  • Defendant's Rights
  • The best way to understand the Criminal Justice System is to start with the basics.

    After an arrest, a Municipal Court Judge or Magistrate will, within 72 hours of your arrest, advise you of the charges against you and discuss your elegibility for a bond. If you are unable to make bond, the Municipal Court will usually hold a preliminary hearing several days after an arrest to determine if there is sufficient evidence to bind the case over to a higher court.

    Misdemeanors, which are less serious cases, punishable by 12 months or less in jail, are bound over to the County Solicitor for prosecution in State Court. Felonies, which are more serious crimes, punishable by one year or more in prison, are sent to the District Attorney for further investigation and prosecution in Superior Court.

    The District Attorney's office presents most felony cases to the Grand Jury for indictment when their investigation is complete. It usually takes 45 to 90 days from the day of arrest for a case to be presented to the Grand Jury.

    The Grand Jury consists of 16 to 23 county citizens who serve for a statutorily designated period of time. They are randomly selected from the list of registered voters. One duty of the Grand Jury is to determine if there is sufficient evidence to bring formal charges against an individual for a specific crime. Neither the defendant nor his or her attorney is present at the Grand Jury hearing.

    After hearing evidence, the Grand Jurors discuss the case in private and vote to return a TRUE BILL of indictment or a NO BILL. If a TRUE BILL is returned, the defendant is indicted and must stand trial.  If a NO BILL is returned, the defendant is not indicted and the case is dismissed by the Grand Jury.

    Once a case is indicted, it is assigned to a division of the Superior Court  and an Assistant District Attorney is assigned to prosecute the case.