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What are the stages of a criminal case?

Broadly speaking, the criminal process is initiated once the police make an arrest. Once an arrest has been made, the suspect will go before the judge for a bail hearing to determine what, if any, the amount of bail will be. The next step in the criminal justice process will be an arraignment or preliminary hearing. At this proceeding, the judge informs the accused of the criminal charges against him or her, asks the accused whether he or she has an attorney or wants a court-appointed attorney, asks how the accused will plead to the charges, determines whether to modify the initial amount of bail and sets a schedule for future court dates. In felony cases, a judge will hold a preliminary hearing or grand jury proceeding next to determine whether the prosecution has enough evidence against the accused to proceed to the next step. Next, the accused may wish for his or her attorney to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor. If a plea bargain is reached, the accused will appear in court to plea guilty to the charge and will be sentenced. If the accused doesn’t wish to accept the prosecutor’s plea bargain, the case will proceed to trial.