Administrative hearing

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:35 pm
When the police arrest a criminal suspect, the case passes to a prosecutor, who examines the evidence and decides whether or not to file charges. In felony cases, which are crimes carrying penalties of a year or more in prison, the prosecutor may enlist the help of a grand jury. Once charges have been filed, the case is heard by a judge at a preliminary hearing or arraignment. At this time, the suspect is given the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. The judge listens to the arguments of the prosecutor and the defending attorney and decides whether the case should proceed to trial. If the case is to go to trial, a date is fixed when the defendant must appear in court. The judge also decides whether the defendant is to be returned to custody or released pending trial. In some cases, for example, when the crime is not serious and the defendant can demonstrate close ties in the community, the judge may grant release on the defendant's own recognizance. In other cases, the defendant must post bail, and the amount of bail is also set at this hearing.

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