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Ch 17 Pretrial Process
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Ch 17 Pretrial Process

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Ch 17 Pretrial Process Ch 17 Pretrial Process Presentation Transcript

  • Scheb and Scheb, Criminal Law and Procedure 7 th edition Chapter 17: The Pretrial Process
  • Summary Justice
    • In the case of minor misdemeanors, including many traffic violations, trials are often held in a summary fashion without the use of a jury, usually at the defendant’s first appearance in court.
    • In Duncan v. Louisiana (1968), the U.S. Supreme Court held that a jury trial is not constitutionally required unless the defendant is subject to incarceration for more than 6 months.
  • Summary Justice (cont.)
    • In a summary trial the charges are read, the defendant is asked to plead to the charges, and a verdict is reached, often within a few minutes.
    • In most such cases, defendants do in fact plead guilty, but even when they proclaim their innocence they are seldom acquitted.
      • Judges are more inclined to take the word of the arresting officer over that of the accused, and rarely are there any additional witnesses.
  • Right to Counsel in Summary Trials
    • Although a person charged with any criminal offense has the right to retain counsel to represent him or her at a summary proceeding, most defendants charged with minor misdemeanors are not represented by counsel.
      • A principal reason is the expense of retaining a lawyer, which may exceed the fine imposed.
      • In Scott v. Illinois (1980), the Supreme Court said that indigent persons do not have a right to counsel at public expense unless they are actually sentenced to jail.
  • Pretrial Process in Cases of Felonies / Major Misdemeanors
    • There are elaborate pretrial procedures in these cases:
      • Initial Appearance
      • The Grand Jury
      • The Preliminary Hearing
      • Arraignment
    • These procedures are important components of the administration of justice because the great majority of all criminal cases are resolved at this stage and never go to trial.
  • The Sieve Effect
    • As cases move through the system from arrest through adjudication and, in many instances, toward the imposition of punishment, there is considerable attrition.
    • Of any one hundred felony arrests, perhaps as few as twenty-five will result in convictions.
    • This “sieve effect” occurs for a number of reasons:
      • insufficient evidence
      • legitimate defenses
      • police misconduct
      • procedural errors
      • transfer of young offenders to juvenile courts
  • The Initial Appearance in Court
    • Under the Constitution, a person accused of a crime has the right to a speedy and public trial.
      • This includes the right to be promptly brought before a judge to be formally apprised of the charges.
    • In addition to reading the charges, the judge at the first appearance attempts to ascertain whether the defendant is represented by an attorney.
      • If not, and the defendant is indigent, the judge generally appoints counsel.
  • Functions of the Initial Appearance
    • Three important functions:
      • the charges must be read to the accused;
      • the accused must be informed of relevant constitutional rights;
      • the magistrate must decide whether the accused should be released pending trial or remanded to custody to await the disposition of the case.
  • Modes of Pretrial Release
    • Release on personal recognizance
    • Release to the custody of another
    • Posting an individual bond
    • Posting a surety bond
  • The Issue of Excessive Bail
    • The Eighth Amendment states that “excessive bail shall not be required.”
    • “ Bail set at a figure higher than an amount reasonably calculated to [ensure the appearance of the accused in court] is ‘excessive’ under the Eighth Amendment.”
      • Stack v. Boyle (1951)
  • Federal Bail Reform Act of 1984
    • Allows federal courts to detain arrestees without bail on the ground of the arrestee’s danger to the community as well as the need to ensure future court appearances.
  • Pretrial Release Options
      • Bonded release
      • Conditional release
      • Supervised release
      • Third party custody release
      • Release on personal recognizance (ROR)
  • What about the 8th Amendment?
    • The amendment does not guarantee a right to bail, but a right to no excessive bail
    • Stack v. Boyle (1951)
      • If a crime is bailable, the amount set should not be frivolous, unusual or beyond a person’s ability to pay under similar circumstances.
  • United States v. Salerno (1987)
    • The Supreme Court held that preventive detention has a legitimate and compelling regulatory purpose and does not violate the due process clause.
    • Preventive detention was not designed as a punishment, but to prevent danger to the community which is a legitimate societal goal.
  • Formal Charging Mechanisms
    • Indictment by a grand jury
      • – OR –
    • Preliminary hearing on an “information” filed by the prosecutor
      • Note: Some states provide for an optional preliminary hearing before the case is sent to the grand jury.
  • The Grand Jury
    • In many jurisdictions, prosecutors must obtain an indictment or “true bill” from the grand jury in addition to, or instead of, the preliminary hearing.
    • The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “[n]o person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury.”
  • The Grand Jury
    • The grand jury, not to be confused with the trial jury, is a body that considers evidence obtained by the prosecutor in order to determine whether there is probable cause to hold a trial.
    • Grand juries also have the power to conduct investigations on their own initiative.
    • Designed to prevent unwarranted prosecutions, the grand jury dates back to twelfth-century England.
  • The Grand Jury (cont.)
    • Grand jury proceedings are typically closed to the public.
    • The prosecutor appears before the grand jury with a series of cases he has built against various defendants.
    • Witnesses are called and physical evidence is presented.
    • If the grand jury believes that a given case is substantial, it hands down an indictment, or “true bill.”
  • Grand Jury Powers
    • Grand juries possess the authority to:
      • compel the appearance of witnesses
      • subpoena documents
      • hold individuals in contempt
      • grant immunity in exchange for testimony
  • Types of Immunity
    • Transactional immunity bars any further prosecution of the witness for the specific transaction to which the witness testified.
    • Use immunity bars only the use of the witness’s testimony against the witness in a subsequent prosecution.
  • Criticism of the Grand Jury
    • In the overwhelming majority of cases, grand juries hand down indictments against persons as requested by prosecutors, leading some to question the utility of the grand jury procedure as a means of guarding against arbitrary or unwarranted prosecution.
  • Specific Criticisms of the Grand Jury
    • A rubber stamp for the prosecutor.
      • The old saying is that “...the grand jury would indict a ham sandwich if the prosecutor wanted it to.”
    • Costly and creates delays
    • Does not serve as a check and balance of government powers as it currently operates
    • About half of the states have dispensed with or limited the functions of grand juries.
    • These states have opted instead for charging defendants in a fashion that is less cumbersome and arguably more protective of the innocent.
    The “Information” / “Preliminary Hearing” System
  • The “Information” / “Preliminary Hearing” System (cont.)
    • The Preliminary Hearing is
      • Conducted before a judge
      • Open proceedings
      • Prosecution and defense attend
      • Witnesses may be confronted
      • Rules of evidence apply
      • Judge makes decision on whether to bind over for trial
  • The Arraignment
    • The arraignment is the accused’s first appearance before a court of law with the authority to conduct a criminal trial.
    • At this stage of the process, the accused must enter a plea to the charges contained in the indictment or information.
  • Entering a Plea
    • The defendant has four options:
      • plead guilty, in which case guilt will be pronounced and a date set for sentencing;
      • plead not guilty, in which case a trial date will be set;
      • plead nolo contendere , or no contest, which is tantamount to a plea of guilty;
      • remain silent, in which case the court enters a plea of not guilty on behalf of the accused.
  • The Guilty Plea
    • The most common plea
    • Judge must inform accused of:
      • loss of rights
      • right to counsel
      • consequences and possible sentences
    • Must establish that the plea is voluntary
  • Nolo Contendere (No Contest Plea)
    • Similar to a guilty plea in that the defendant states willingness to accept the punishment of the court.
    • Because this is not a plea of guilty, it cannot be used against the defendant in any civil suit arising out of the same action.
  • Plea Bargaining
    • In most jurisdictions, more than 90% of felony suspects arraigned plead guilty or no contest.
    • Many guilty pleas result from plea bargaining.
      • Enables the parties to avoid the delay and uncertainties of trial and appeal.
      • Permits swift and certain punishment of law violators with a sentence tailored to the circumstances of the case at hand.
      • Despite constitutional attacks, the Supreme Court has upheld the practice of plea bargaining.
  • Concessions of Plea Bargaining
      • Reduction of initial charges
      • Reduction of the number of charges
      • Recommendation for a lighter sentence than probable
      • To alter the charges
      • To help move the case to a more lenient judge
    The prosecutor may offer:
  • Pros and Cons of Plea Bargaining
    • Reduced costs
    • Improved efficiency
    • Concentrate on serious cases
    • Avoids pretrial detention and delays
    • Encourages defendants to waive constitutional rights
    • Results in lesser sentences and sentencing disparity
    • May coerce innocent to plead guilty
  • Factors Affecting the Decision to Plea Bargain
    • Nature of the offense
    • Defendant’s prior record and age
    • The type, strength and admissibility of evidence in the case
    • Attitude of the complainant
    • Prosecutors in areas with low population are more likely to bargain
  • Reforming Plea Bargaining
    • Make it more:
      • Visible?
      • Understandable?
      • Fair?
    • Create specific guidelines?
    • Require greater judicial supervision over the process?
    • Place limits on the process?
    • Give victims a veto?
  • If Plea Bargaining Was Eliminated....?
    • Would fewer cases be prosecuted?
    • Would prosecutors engage in more charge bargaining?
    • Would judges have a greater role in the sentencing process?
    • Would courtroom congestion increase?
    • Would more people go to prison?
  • Pretrial Diversion
    • What are the advantages?
      • Avoids stigma of conviction
      • Reduces costs to the system
      • Alleviates jail and prison overcrowding
    What is it? Placing offenders into non-criminal programs prior to trial and conviction.
  • Pretrial Diversion Factors
    • Nature of the crime and offender
    • Criminal background
    • Defendant’s cooperation
    • Impact on the community
    • Victim’s opinion
  • Prosecutor’s Duty to Disclose Exculpatory Evidence
    • The Supreme Court has stated that “the suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to the accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution.”
      • Brady v. Maryland (1963)
  • Speedy Trial Act of 1974
    • Provides specific time limits for pretrial and trial procedures in the federal courts.
      • An indictment must be filed within thirty days of arrest, and trial must commence within seventy days after the indictment.
      • If the defendant’s trial does not begin within the time limitations and the defendant enters a motion to dismiss the charges, the district court must dismiss the charges.
  • Joinder and Severance
    • Joinder Charges
    • Severance Parties
  • Common Pretrial Motions
    • to dismiss the charges against the accused.
    • to determine the competency of the accused to stand trial.
    • to suppress evidence obtained through unlawful search.
    • to suppress confessions, admissions, or other statements.
    • to suppress a pretrial identification of the accused.
    • to require the prosecution to disclose identity of informant.
  • Common Pretrial Motions (cont.)
    • change of venue.
    • continuance.
    • to take a deposition to preserve the testimony of a witness.
    • to inspect the minutes of the grand jury proceeding.
    • to compel the prosecutor to disclose evidence that might be favorable to the accused.
    • to disqualify the trial judge.