How a case moves through the judicial system

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Civil and criminal cases run similarly through the court system, albeit with small differences. Regardless of the circumstances, it is recommended that the accused employ a lawyer.


In general, every case has to go through several stages of the judicial system. In most cases, these cases are represented by a lawyer – but even if individuals chose to represent themselves, these legal proceedings would still go through the same stages.

Against this background, the phases can differ depending on the type of case. A civil process, for example, can run differently through the court system – albeit only slightly. Read on to find out how your case is transported through the system:

The Fall Movement in Civil Matters

A civil litigation is very often a legal disagreement between two legal entities. These entities could be people found in a dispute or the case could involve a company. People can also find themselves in civil lawsuits with agencies like their government, district authorities, etc.

In many cases, civil disputes involve issues such as debt collection, breaches of contract, property damage, monetary compensation or family matters after a divorce. Within the court system, the party filing the lawsuit is referred to as the “plaintiff” while those who are sued are referred to as the “defendants”.

This is how the case goes when it comes to a civil action:

  1. In the first phase of a dispute, the plaintiff submits a document, such as a petition or complaint, to the court. There they will also state the reason why they are suing the defendant in the first place. They will talk about the action they want to take against the defendant – the action the court should take.
  2. The plaintiff must indicate whether the case should be submitted to arbitration. This should be done in accordance with the court decision.
  3. When the files are moved, the defendant is also served with a copy of the complaint. This will also serve as her subpoena in court.
  4. The defendant is given a limited time to respond to the claims in writing. You have an average of 20 days to deny or admit the complaints.
  5. Both defendants and plaintiffs exchange information about the case. This case is known as a “discovery”.
  6. The case is reached and heard before a judge or jury. Here, each party has the opportunity to open and close their testimony, present the evidence or hear the witnesses. Litigators will be present to represent each party.
  7. The judges will look at the evidence and testimony presented at the trial and analyze the problems faced by both parties. Based on what they have collected, the judge or jury will give their verdict.
  8. The losing party has the right to appeal the decision, which can refer the case to a higher authority.

In the event that the losing party appeals, the court will refer the case to the appeals court. At this point it will be checked again. Usually, no further process is required at this stage, as the only thing you can do is double-check the documents. Depending on the findings, the judges of the appellate court can confirm, overturn, or remand the original decision.

The case movement in criminal matters

Criminal proceedings include crime commissions that are prohibited by law. These acts are generally punishable by fines, suspended sentences, jail terms, and sometimes even death, unless that was the case excluded in the state. This is how criminal proceedings normally work:

  1. arrest

    Photo by Kindel Media from Pexels

The first stage of criminal proceedings involves arresting the person. This is done either through an arrest warrant or when the act was seen by someone from law enforcement. The person can be held for 24 hours before either being released or arrested.

  1. First appearance

When the case goes to court, the judge determines the name and address of the accused. The accused is informed of the allegations made against him and is given the right to remain silent. The defendant can hire a criminal defense attorney or can get one from the state if he cannot afford a lawyer.

  1. Preliminary hearing

The case is going to the preliminary hearing. Here the judge takes the evidence and hears the testimony of potential witnesses. In addition, data of the lawyer of the accused and the public prosecutor are determined. If enough evidence is found to suggest that the defendant actually committed the crime, the case will be tried in the Superior Court, with a date set for the indictment.

  1. accusation

During the indictment, the defendant can confess his guilt: guilty or not guilty. You cannot take part in any competition either. If the accused pleads guilty, the judge will give his verdict on the crime. If they plead not guilty, the case will be brought to justice.

  1. attempt

During the process, those involved can open and close their statements. Evidence is presented and the witnesses cross-examined. If potential evidence emerges that was not presented during the preliminary hearing, it will be presented during the hearing.

  1. verdict

After reviewing the evidence, the guilt of the accused will be determined. If they are not found guilty, they will be released immediately. If found guilty, they will receive their sentence. The accused can be released pending conviction or, depending on the offense, be placed in pre-trial detention.

  1. Appeal

If the accused is convicted, he can appeal. If the convicted person is sentenced to death, the case will be appealed to the Supreme Court. The appeals court will review the evidence and make a decision. Similar to civil proceedings, they can confirm a decision, reverse it or refer the matter back.

Final thoughts

Civil and criminal cases run similarly through the court system, albeit with small differences. Regardless of the circumstances, it is recommended that the accused employ a lawyer. This gives them the best chance of winning their case if they are right.


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