criminal Cases

criminal case is an action brought by the state against a criminal defendant for a violation of the criminal laws of the jurisdiction bringing the action.

  • The official parties to the criminal case are the “state” and the defendant. The state is represented by a public prosecutor (state’s attorney or district attorney).
  • While the prosecutor is generally required to consult with the victim before making certain key decisions in the case, it is the prosecutor makes the decision on what charges (if any) to bring, whether the state accepts a “plea bargain” (deal between the prosecutor and the defendant in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for the prosecutor’s agreement to seek a lesser sentence) and what type of sentence to recommend to the court.

Criminal Cases

A person accused of a crime is generally charged in a formal accusation called an indictment (for felonies or serious crimes) or information (for misdemeanors). 

It is not the victim’s responsibility to bring a criminal case. In a kidnapping case, for instance, the government would prosecute the kidnapper; the victim would not be a party to the action.

In some criminal cases, there may not be a specific victim. For example, state governments arrest and prosecute people accused of violating laws against driving while intoxicated because society regards that as a serious offense that can result in harm to others.

When a court determines that an individual committed a crime, that person will receive a sentence. The sentence may be an order to pay a monetary penalty (a fine and/or restitution to the victim), imprisonment, or supervision in the community .

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