While every criminal matter that enters the legal system of the state of Oregon is different and it is treated as such there are several common stages that occur as cases flow through the justice network of the state including law enforcement and the judiciary. Regardless of the nature of the crime, who has committed it and the agency that handled the matter, the case will adhere to these criminal laws.
It all starts with the issue of Oregon arrest warrants
Although the liberty to make arrests without active warrants has been conferred upon the police in the state of OR, the fact remains that law enforcement agencies prefer to work under the provisions of legal arrest orders. To seek these decrees, the sheriff’s department mandatorily has to approach the court.
Outstanding warrants are exclusively issued on the basis of probable cause, so the mere fact that the police have taken the matter in front of a magistrate means that they have a sizeable amount of evidence against the suspect. Whether arrests are made through the use of a warrant or not, custodial detention signals the start of criminal proceedings against an accused.
First appearance in court
Cops are legally bound to present an arrestee before the magistrate within a period of 48 hours. In reality, the court’s schedule will govern when the accused is escorted for the first appearance. At this session, the judge reads out the rights of the accused for him and decides on a bail hearing. The alleged offender is also expected to enter a plea at this point which can be “guilty’, “not guilty” or ‘no contest”.
Release under bail
Arrestees are allowed to walk free while the case is in trial under two provisions; the judge can either grant release under personal recognizance which is rare because this option does not involve a collateral. Another way is to provide for release on posting bail. It should be understood here that felonies and even some misdemeanors are not eligible for bail. Those who are accused of felonies will go through one of the next two stages.
The preliminary or grand jury hearing
While the purpose of both these sessions is to determine probable cause against the accused, the difference lies in who dons the mantle of authority. The judge presides over the preliminary hearing while a 7 member panel of jurors decides on probable cause in the grand jury hearing. If the jury sees merit in the evidence presented against the accused, the indictment is returned (the formal charges). If the defendant is not already in custody, an OR arrest warrant will be issued against him at this point.
The plea agreements
Most criminal cases that enter the judicial system of Oregon are sorted through plea bargains. This is an arrangement between the prosecution and the defense under which the accused gets away with a lighter sentence in return for pleading guilty or for testifying from the side of the state. The purpose of this endeavor is to reduce the burden on the judicial system.
Even after the grand jury indictment, the defendant has a long way to go before the matter goes to trial. It is imperative to ensure that both sides concur on certain crucial matters so that the court’s time is not wasted in sorting out these trivialities at a later stage. To this respect, motions and continuances are added to the criminal process to ascertain agreements between the sparring parties.
Although spread over several sessions that may run into a couple of months, the trial is divided into 6 distinct processes. The opening statement signals the start of the case and lawyers from both sides introduce the matter in court at this point. The next in line is the presentation of the evidence; prosecution has the first go at this followed by the defense.
The closing arguments come in last after which the jury is instructed by the judge and given time to deliberate on the verdict. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge will carry out the sentencing.