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The Legal Process

Understanding the legal process is essential to ensure transparency, fairness, and access to justice. From the initiation of a case to its resolution, this page will guide you through each stage, explaining the key elements and procedures involved. By familiarizing yourself with the legal process, you can better navigate your rights, obligations, and the various stages that contribute to a just and equitable outcome.



Charges Filed

The process begins when a prosecutor files a charge (or charges) against an individual with the court. This is typically done via the custom-built "dragnet" system which is a tool utilized by the court, police and attorneys that logs a persons criminal records.


Notice of Charges Filed

Once the court is notified of a charge being filed, the SPD will then be required to submit their evidence. Once this has been done the Court will then send a notice to the defendant setting out what that charge or charges are and details of the legal process so that they can be fully informed about what is happening. The notice is known as a CS1 Notice and also contains a timetable for evidence submission, as well as a link to a form where the defendant can make their case.

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Evidence Submissions


Alongside the notice, the defendant will also receive a link to the DE1 Form, a google form which will allow them to present a written statement, in addition to any other evidence they wish to rely on. The form also allows them to make a selection as to their preferred hearing date.


The defendant will have 14 days to complete this form, failure to do so will lead to a charge of obstruction of justice.



With all evidence now collected from both sides, the Court will send a copy of the defendant's evidence to the SPD before the hearing so that both the defendant and prosecutor have a chance to review each other's evidence, allowing for any final arguments to be prepared prior to the hearing.



Entering a Plea


The hearing then takes place on the date agreed. At the start of the hearing, the defendant will be asked to enter a plea of "guilty" or "not guilty". If the defendant enters "not guilty" or makes no plea at all then the trial will begin. If the defendant enters "guilty" then the trial will be skipped and the hearing will go straight to sentencing.


Pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity automatically reduces a sentence by 50%, with this discount reducing the longer it takes before a guilty plea is entered.


The Trial

Where a defendant enters "not guilty" or enters no plea at all then a trial begins. The prosecutor will begin by setting out their case and they will have 10-20 minutes to do so. The defendant will then have 10-20 minutes to present their side. If either side wishes to bring a witness then their timer will be paused whilst ever the witness is being examined or cross examined but each side will only have 5 minutes to ask questions of the witness before they are then moved on. Once both sides have concluded, a verdict will then be decided.

The burden of proof is on the prosecutor. The defendant is not obliged to prove his innocence, but will be required to back up any defenses they submit.



Deciding a Verdict


In the case of a trial and where an offense is a felony, it will typically be heard before a jury of three to decide the defendant's guilt on the evidence presented (except for low value thefts and criminal damage). If a jury cannot be assembled by the court then a single judge will decide instead. Where an offense is a misdemeanor, it will typically be heard by a single judge to decide the defendant's guilt on the evidence presented. If a verdict of "not guilty" is declared on all counts then the proceedings will end without further action, but where a verdict of "guilty" is declared on any count the matter will then proceed to sentencing.



Once a guilty verdict is declared to the court, the judge will then consult the Sentencing Guidelines to determine the fine amount to administer. The judge will then inform the defendant what amount they are liable to pay and will ask if they are able to pay that amount upfront. If the defendant can pay, the proceedings will close upon receipt of payment and no further action will be taken against the defendant. However if the defendant cannot pay immediately, the court will usually allow the defendant 21 days to pay the amount, and will inquire as to how they will aim to raise the funds. In certain circumstances, a payment plan may be created to accommodate the defendant.




Failure to pay a fine or not cooperating with the process in any meaningful way, will mean that a defendant is committing an obstruction to justice and the court will therefore add additional fees onto the outstanding amount. This will lead to the court issuing a warrant of arrest which will enable any registered SPD officer or Bounty Hunter to track down the defendant and either ensure the convict appears at court to settle the matter or if that is unsuccessful, recover the outstanding amount themselves as a last resort.



Once the fine is paid, the court will assign a certain amount to go to any victim or victims in the case, usually to cover any losses they acquired as a result of the defendant's actions. The remaining amount will then be distributed across the Stanton Justice Assembly to enable its officers and officials to carry out their work, as well as any bounty fees if such services were required.

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