How does the criminal justice system work?

The criminal justice system can be confusing, especially if you’ve never been charged with a crime.  This page provides a brief explanation of criminal procedure in Wisconsin.

We agree – the criminal justice system seems complex to an individual who doesn’t interact with it on a regular basis.  That’s one of the reasons we created this page.  Terms that we, as criminal defense attorneys, use on a regular basis might sound like a different language to you.  Sometimes it’s helpful to break those words down in a way that makes them more understandable for individuals moving through the criminal justice system.  Although the facts in cases are different, the way in which they move through the criminal justice system is the same.

Below you’ll find links to specific pages dealing with a few of the important points of a criminal case.  These points range from the initial appearance, which is your first court appearance, through sentencing, where a criminal case typically ends, and we finish by briefly discussing appeals.  While your case might not proceed to appeal, you maintain the option to do so.

The links listed below detail many of the important points your case move through:

Initial Appearance – The first court date.

Preliminary Hearing / Arraignment –  Used in felony cases to determine whether there is probable cause to continue.  Arraignment is entry of an initial plea.

Receipt of Discovery – When we receive all the evidence relevant to your case.

Pre-Trial Motions – Requesting that the court take a specific action in your case.

Plea Bargaining – When you want to resolve a case, and negotiate with the state.

Trial – When a jury hears facts and determines whether you’re guilty or not.

Court Trial – When a judge hears facts and determines whether you’re guilty or not.

Sentencing – Only applicable if you’re convicted.  When the punishment is determined.

Appeal – Once the case is complete at the trial level.

For the best defense, don’t simply rely on an online guide.  Contact our law firm immediately for help dealing with criminal procedure.

At Van Severen Law Office, S.C., our staff is comprised of experts dedicated to criminal defense.  Every day we deal with the procedural issues we’ve briefly discussed on this page.  Understanding, and dealing with, these issues is not something that we think you should handle on your own.  We’ve dealt with initial appearances, preliminary hearings, discovery, pleas, motions, and trials thousands of times.  We’re experts when it comes to defending individuals accused of crimes in Wisconsin.

To speak with one of our top criminal defense lawyers, and to set up a free consultation, contact us immediately at (414) 270-0202.

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