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Key points to remember in criminal justice proceedings

Finding out that you are being charged for criminal activities is a horrifying experience. As you embark upon the process, you might wonder exactly what different things in the criminal justice system mean. It is important that you understand how different things can affect you, your case and your rights.

One thing that affects criminal cases is the right to a jury trial. You might think that you are automatically afforded this right; however, that isn't the case. In order to be guaranteed a jury trial, you have to be facing at least six months of incarceration in relation to the charges you are facing.

Throughout the criminal justice process, you might be asked questions. It is crucial that you know that you can exercise your Fifth Amendment rights at any point. This amendment means that you don't have to say anything that might incriminate you, and it also means that if you exercise that right, the fact that you exercised it can't be used against you.

When you go to trial, it must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. This means that if you bring up points that would make a reasonable person think you might not have committed the crime, you shouldn't be found guilty of the crime.

If you are facing criminal charges of any sort, including white collar crimes, you should make sure that you know what options you have at each step in the process. This ensures that you are making the decisions that you are most comfortable with, even if you don't have any that are truly comfortable.

Source: FindLaw, "Criminal Procedure FAQ," accessed Oct. 13, 2016

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