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Law \ Legal

Criminal Justice Process (Video) What Is This Madness?

A police officer observes what he believes to be a crime. That’s his probable cause to arrest you and initiate the criminal justice process. For example, you’re speeding, and the police pull you over. When they approach your car to check your credentials, they smell marijuana. That’s enough evidence for them to arrest you. Your charges could be drug possession, paraphernalia possession, and/or drug distribution. But the police don’t know the charges yet, because they have not done their investigation. They just have enough probable cause to arrest you.

Or think of this: Police receive an anonymous 911 call. The caller says she hears a noise from the neighboring apartment – yours. Police knock on your door; you open it, and they see your wife standing in the living room, crying and holding her head. They think you’ve slapped her, which is an act of domestic violence. This is all the evidence they need to arrest you and charge you with simple assault.

Regardless of why you are arrested, you are handcuffed, put in the patrol car, and taken to the police station. Once there, you are fingerprinted, and your mug shot is taken. If the charges involve a sex crime, you may also have a DNA swab taken.

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