Law and Order are tough to understand but not impossible. So, to make you aware of how bad it is to commit a serious crime, like murder. We have written down the steps of criminal proceedings carried out for a murder charge.
Being charged with any crime is serious, but it is of grave seriousness and horrifying when it is a criminal charge for murder. Anyone committing murder is accused of a cognizable and non-bailable offense. He may receive a death or life imprisonment sentence and fine as well in the form of punishment.
A murder charge proceeds with a criminal trial, and the case is closed as a warrant case that deals with death and lifetime imprisonment as a punishment. Universally, the Adversarial system is followed, which implies that the onus of proof is on the prosecutor, i.e., the burden of proving that the accused has committed the murder lies on the prosecutor.
Till all the allegations against the accused are proved to the judges’, the accused is treated as an innocent. Let’s see the stages of a murder trial in detail and understand how the law works.
What Are the Stages in a Murder Trial?
Making An Official Complaint to the Magistrate or the Police
Filing a complaint with the police after a murder has been committed is the beginning of the pre-trial stage. The complaint filed is in the form of an FIR or the First Information Report, which means reporting a murder crime to the police. The FIR is a written complaint and is read out before the informant.
The complaint can also be reported to a magistrate, either verbally or in written format. From here, the magistrate will take cognizance of the crime committed. If he finds sufficient grounds supporting the complaint, he will issue a warrant case or dismiss the complaint.
The police will carry out a detailed investigation:
- To record statements of witnesses;
- To interrogate statement of the accused;
- To collect evidence.
Arresting the Accused and Keeping in Remand
There are two options for the police to take action. They are arresting the accused without a warrant because murder is a cognizable offense. Here, they will be required to produce the accused in front of the accused within 24 hours after the arrest. But, if the police fail to finish their investigation within 24 hours, they can apply for police custody of the accused, known as a remand. Remand is a legal process to detain the person in police custody till their trial.
Once the investigation is complete, the police prepare a charge sheet against the accused where elements of the crime are mentioned in the prescribed form.
The charge sheet also consists of complete investigation details of the police, charges pressed against the accused, lists and statements of the witnesses, all the facts & findings, a copy of the FIR, and a list of all the seizures made and other evidence in the form of documents.
A public prosecutor who will be representing the victim’s party, technically called the state, files the charge sheet in the court. If the police authority finds that a prima facie case does not exist, the court filed the final report.
Cognizance of the Crime by The Magistrate
The magistrate considers the accused to have committed a crime when:
- He receives a complaint of facts that involves the crime committed;
- The police submit a charge sheet;
- He receives such information from someone other than the police officer-in-charge.
Service of the Warrant to Accused
At this stage, the accused is brought before the court. At the same time, the public prosecutor opens the case by elaborating on the charges pressed against him and showing the evidence that proves the accused or the defendant to be guilty. The defendant has the right to an attorney. If he cannot afford it, the judge will appoint a public defender to fight the case for him.
After hearing from both the parties and considering all the proof and evidence, if the judge sees no sufficient grounds that prove the accused guilty of the murder, the judge discharges him of all the charges, giving a detailed explanation for his decision.
But, if the defendant is found guilty by the judge, he will be framing charges against the accused in writing that will be read and explained to him. The accused can either plead guilty of the crime he has been charged with or contest to be tried for the charges.
Commencement of a Trial
If the defendant pleads not guilty to murder, the court summons the prosecution and fixes a date to examine the witnesses. Once this cross-examination of all prosecution witnesses and evidence has been done, the court calls the defendant to present his defence argument.
After hearing the accused’s defence and the results of the prosecution’s cross-examination, if the judge sees a lack of evidence against the accused, he can record an order of acquittal. Or, if the accused is not acquitted, he might again present his defence or any other evidence that he might have in support of his words.
Now, the case will be due for the final argument.
The Final Argument
After hearing the final arguments presented by the prosecutor and the defendant, it is on the judge whether to convict or acquit the accused.
The final decision that the judge announces in the court, which either will be acquitting or convicting the accused, is called judgment.
If the defendant is found to be guilty, he will be charged for the charges pressed against him and will be sentenced to punishment and fine as per the discretion of the judge.
But, if he is found to be innocent, he will be released from all the charges and will be allowed to walk like a free man. If present in the court, the complainant will be asked by the judge to prove why he should not be paying any compensation to the accused of accusing him of an offense that he did not commit. If he is not present, he would be summoned for the same.
The Final Verdict
The judge’s judgment is the final and the last step in the process of a murder trial. It is humiliating, frustrating, and highly toxic. So, never even think of doing anything as sinful as murdering a person because the aftermath would be murdering yourself. If you’re thinking, “what kind of lawyer do I need” to fight a criminal case, the answer is a criminal lawyer.
Author: Sofia Kelly is a passionate blogger. She loves to share her thoughts, ideas and experiences with the world through blogging. Sofia Kelly is associated with Smart Business Daily, Dream Land Estate, SB News Room, Finance Team, Gossipment, Okey Magazine & Global Business Diary.