GUIDE TO THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

From the point of view of an accused person

Has someone accused you of a crime?

Whether you can be arrested, how you get bail and whether you need to serve jail time depend on the nature of the crime.

How does a criminal case start? Who is in charge?

The victim usually goes to the police when a crime has been commited. She can also go to a judge (known as the Magistrate) to report a crime.

What are your rights at the time of arrest and after?

Depending on the type of crime, the police can arrest you with or without the permission of the Magistrate. They need to present you before a Magistrate within 24 hours.

You have been arrested. Can you talk to your lawyer?

You have the right to talk to a lawyer who can help you. If you are poor and cannot afford one, you have the right to get a lawyer without cost.

You have been arrested. Can you get bail?

If the crime you have been arrested for is 'bailable', the police must grant you bail. If the crime is 'non-bailable', a judge will decide if you can be released on bail.

What happens after the police have investigated your case?

The police submit their final conclusions in a report to the Magistrate (known as the charge-sheet). The Magistrate then decides whether to start trial process.

When does the trial start? What happens during trial?

A court will decide your guilt or innocence by conducting a trial. The court decides whether you are guilty based on the proof and the law.

Can a child be acused of committing a crime?

There is a special law for children who have been accused of committing crimes. It deals with the procedure for bail, custody etc. of children.