Criminal procedure refers to the overall legal process of adjudicating claims for a person who is accused of violating criminal laws. The main idea behind all criminal procedures is known as the “presumption of innocence,” meaning that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty.

Thus, the burden of proof is on the state prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant actually committed the crime in question. Criminal procedures include a variety of Constitutional protections for the defendant which serve to prevent abuses of the justice system.

Some of these protections include the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to an attorney, and the right not to incriminate one’s self.

What Is included under Criminal Procedure?

Criminal procedure is best understood as a timeline beginning with the apprehension of the suspect and ending with the final verdict or appeal. Procedural guidelines also govern other after-measures such as probation or parole. Criminal procedure includes matters such as:

  • Stop, Detention, and Arrest
  • Search and Seizure
  • Booking and Filing Charges
  • Suspect/Eyewitness Lineup Identifications
  • Appointment of Counsel (assigning a court-appointed lawyer)
  • Plea Bargaining
  • Evidence
  • Trial
  • Sentencing
  • Appeal
  • Probation and Parole

Do I Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

If criminal procedure rules are violated by the prosecution, it could lead to a mistrial or other serious errors. For example, if the prosecution fails to abide by search and seizure guidelines, the evidence seized from the wrongful search will be excluded from trial.  Therefore it is important for any person being charged with a crime to work with a criminal lawyer.