In Hawaii, adult criminals’ processing is handled in four steps; pre-arrest, post-arrest, pre-trial, and post trial. The common assumption is that the criminal procedure starts when arrests are made. However, in reality, handling criminal matters can start earlier if an arrest warrant is sought or if the grand jury convenes to study the probable cause.
If an active warrant from HI is needed to apprehend the offender in question, the court will be approached for this. The magistrate will consider the evidence against you before taking a call on whether it can be established with the reasonable belief that you had a hand in commissioning the criminal act.
If this can be ascertained through the proof, the outstanding warrant will be issued. A grand jury convenes to make the same determination. However, this is usually done in case of felonies. If the jury members return the indictment, the judge will issue the arrest warrant. Subsequently, arrests will be made. If you are taken into custody before these formalities are completed, an arrest warrant need not be sought after the detention.
Your first appearance in court
Depending on the criminal act that you are accused of, your first time in front of the magistrate will involve an arraignment or simply a preliminary hearing. In the case of misdemeanors, the suspect will be read out the charges that are sought against him, advised of his right, and will be asked to enter his plea. For felonies, the preliminary appearance will only explain the rights of the accused being offered by the magistrate.
Bail will also be tackled at this hearing; based on prior arrest records and flight risks (chances of absconding), the magistrate may or may not provide boded release. If your petition is accepted, you will need to deposit the entire amount in court or pay 10% to a bail bond agent who will take care of the rest in return for a fee and some form of collateral.
Not all criminal matters go to trial.
A lot depends on how much proof is available against you and how capable the defense attorney is in proving your innocence. In most scenarios, the prosecution will offer a plea bargain simply because they do not want to go to trial and want to save the judiciary some time. Under this arrangement, a deal is struck between the defense and the state attorneys on the premises of which you will be asked to plead “guilty.” In return, the prosecution will reduce the charges sought against you; hence you stand to get a lighter sentence.
There are two other scenarios in which the matter may not be taken further; if the defense can prove that the evidence on which the matter is based stands on shaky grounds and is not enough to hold his client culpable, the judge may dismiss the matter well before it is taken in front of the jury. Similarly, before the trial, the prosecution may reach this decision that they don’t have much by way of a case ad appeal to withdraw.
However, after the pretrial appearances, conferences, and motions, the jury members are selected if both sides persist. The prosecution, as well as the defense, gets a say in this. As the panel comes together to hear the case, lawyers from the two sides explain the matter from their perspective to the jury in the opening statements. This is followed by the production of evidence and witness cross-examination.
In conclusion, the lawyers summarize the matter for the jury and request them to consider certain points while making their decision. The verdict only holds when it is unanimous; in a hung jury, a retrial will be ordered by the judge. If the defendant is found guilty as charged, the judge will sentence the offender to an appropriate prison term.