When an individual commits an offense that violates criminal law, he or she must undergo a process known as a criminal procedure. A general set of laws and guidelines known as a criminal procedure differ among states and other local jurisdictions in the United States.
In general, a criminal procedure involves 8 essential steps. The first step is booking wherein the name of the offender is recorded along with the offense and other necessary information such as the arresting officer, the date, the time, etc. The second step is arraignment, which is a formalization of the charges. The person who has been accused enters a plea of guilty or not guilty. The third step is posting bail, if bail is possible depending on the offense committed. Bail is an option provided to incarcerated individuals who pay a certain amount of money proportional to the severity of the crime committed. The fourth step is a preliminary hearing court trial wherein a judge presides to determine if the cause of action is justified enough for an actual court trial, the fifth step. The actual court trial involves a more in-depth prosecution and defense, which eventually lead to sentencing. The sixth step is sentencing, which involves the handing out of a punishment. The sentencing depends on the severity of the crime and the judgment of the judge and jury. The last step is optional and it is called an appeal. An appeal is done when the defendant wishes to contest the judgment passed during the first court trial. However, there are certain conditions that must be fulfilled before one can file an appeal.