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Criminal Justice System In The US: What Happens If You’re Accused Of A Crime?

Being accused of a crime can be scary especially if you had nothing to do with it.

Many people are unaware of the actual procedure which takes place after one is accused of committing a crime.

Between the arrests and the court proceedings, other important events take place.

Let us take a look at what happens when you are accused of a crime.


If you are accused of a serious crime, the police will probably arrest you on the spot.

According to the law, the police need an arrest warrant before they can arrest a person but there are exceptions in certain cases.

For example, the officer has already received valid evidence to support the person’s crime.

Or if the crime has been committed in the presence of the officer – arrests can be carried out without a warrant.

In case an arrest is carried out without a warrant – the police cannot hold you longer than 48 hours without an appearance in court.

Either way, you will be told why exactly you are being arrested. It is important to note that it isn’t necessary to make a statement to the police – it is always better to go along with it without blurting out anything.

If you end up in jail you will be allowed to notify your loved ones and others like your employer.

After the arrest, you will be taken to the police quarters.

In very serious cases, a person will be sent to jail immediately.

Otherwise, they will hand you a written notice which will contain the date and time you are supposed to appear in court. You might be allowed to go back home in this case.

Talking To Your Lawyer

If you don’t end up being released you will be allowed to consult a lawyer who can represent you in court.

In certain cases, a lawyer might be arranged for you free of cost.

Appointing a lawyer to represent you is very crucial in cases that involve false accusations.

If you are accused of a serious crime make sure you hire a good Criminal Defense Attorney – one who specializes in cases involving crimes.

He will look through the evidence you have provided, file the necessary paperwork and build a proper defense which will help back you up in court.

Your attorney will also inform you of your rights and help you prove that the accusations made by the other party are false.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can handle this all by yourself – especially if you have never been involved in a case or accused of a crime before.

Appearance In Court

You will meet with your lawyer before your court appearance.

He will let you know everything you need to know including when and how to speak.

In court, you will be informed about the charges you are facing and will be given the option to plead. The best route is to plead ‘not guilty’.

This means that your case will go to trial.

There are special cases where your attorney will think that you should plead ‘guilty’ even if you are not.

This is usually in the case of less serious offenses.

In this case, your lawyer might be able to come up with a plea bargain that will exempt you from certain penalties.

But remember that most of the time a good lawyer should be able to build a strong defense for you.


The criminal justice procedure can get extremely complicated and there are a whole lot of other details which can be hard to grasp in the beginning.

A lot of official government websites can give you detailed information regarding court procedures and laws. But an experienced attorney can support and guide you through the whole process, so you do not feel clueless amid all the complexities.

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Written by Marcus Richards

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