A Criminal Bond Case differs from a Civil Bond Case in a number of ways. In a criminal bonds case the principal actors are the prosecutor (U.S. Attorney) and the grand jury. The Prosecutor presents evidence and the grand jury then reviews the evidence presented and determines whether or not it is sufficient to require the defendant to stand trial.
The Judicial process of a criminal case can be broken down into four steps.
Burden of Proof, Pretrial, Trial, and Sentencing. The following paragraphs will go more in depth on each step.
Step One: Burden of Proof
In a criminal trial, defendants do not have to prove their innocence. Instead, the burden of proof is on the government. The government must provide evidence to convince the jury of the defendant’s guilt. The defendant must be found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which means the evidence must be so strong that there is no reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. The standard of proof in a criminal trial gives the prosecutor a much greater burden than the plaintiff in a civil trial.
Step Two: Pretrial
At this point of the process a judge has reviewed arrest and post-arrest investigation reports, advises the defendant of the charges filed, and considers whether the defendant should be held in jail until trial. He then determines whether there is probable cause to believe that an offense has been committed and that the defendant has committed it. If a defendant is unable to afford counsel they are advised of their right to a court-appointed attorney. A Defendant may be released into the community before trial but will most likely be subject to electronic monitoring or drug testing, and required to make periodic reports to a pretrial services officer to ensure appearance at trial.
The defendant enters a plea to the charges brought forth by the prosecutor at a court hearing known as arraignment. If a defendant pleads guilty in return for the government agreeing to drop certain charges or to recommend a lenient sentence, the agreement often is called a “plea bargain.” If the defendant pleads guilty, the judge may impose a sentence, but more commonly will schedule a later hearing to determine the sentence. In most felony cases the judge waits for the results of a presentence report from the court’s probation office before imposing sentence. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the judge will schedule a trial.
Step Three: Trial
If a defendant is found not guilty, the defendant is then released and the government may not appeal. The defendant may not be charged again for the same offense in a federal court. The Constitution prohibits “double jeopardy,” or being tried twice for the same offense.
Step Four: Sentencing
If the verdict is guilty, the judge determines the defendant’s sentence. During sentencing, the court may consider U. S. Sentencing Commission guidelines, evidence produced at trial, and any other relevant information provided by the pretrial services officer, the Prosecutor, and the defense attorney.
Sentencing may include prison time, a fine to be paid to the government, and also restitution to be paid to crime victims. The court’s probation officers enforce conditions imposed by the courts ruling. Supervision of offenders often involve services such as substance abuse testing and treatment programs, job counseling, and alternative detention options, such as home confinement or electronic monitoring.