Criminal trial process in forensic science

Criminal trial process in forensic science – Types of Trial:

(1) Adversarial system: It is for the prosecution to prove their case to the Magistrate, beyond reasonable doubt. The defense does not have to prove innocence.

(2) Inquisitorial System : (applied in Europe). Both the prosecution and defense have to make their cases to the court in criminal trial process, which then chooses which is more credible. The proceedings of investigations by the police in criminal offenses are sent to the Judicial Magistrate of the area. All offenses punishable with death, imprisonment for life, or for a term exceeding two years are tried as warrant cases. All other cases are tried as summons cases.

Standard of proof: In criminal trial process, the prosecution must provide evidence of a sufficient quality to convince the Court “beyond reasonable doubt” that the accused is guilty. In civil cases the standard is based on the “balance of probabilities”, so that the Court should be certain of more than 50% of the defendants culpability.

SUMMONS CASES in Criminal trial process

When the accused appears before the Court, he is given the details of the charged offense and asked whether he pleads guilty or not. If the accused pleads guilty, his plea is recorded and he is convicted. If he does not plead guilty, the Magistrate takes all the evidence supporting the prosecution, and takes the evidence produced in defense. On a consideration of all this evidence, he either finds the accused guilty and convicts him, or not guilty, and acquits him.

WARRANT CASES in Criminal trial process

In criminal trial process filed by the police, when the accused is brought before the Court, the Magistrate must make sure that the accused has received all the required documents. The Magistrate considers the documents, examines the accused, and hears the prosecution and defense.

If he finds the charge groundless, he records his reasons and discharges the accused. If there are grounds for believing that an offense has been committed, he frames a written charge against the accused, which is read out and explained to the accused, who is asked to plead.

If he pleads guilty, the plea is recorded and he may be convicted on that plea. If he pleads not guilty, a date is fixed for the examination of the witnesses, and the prosecution evidence is recorded, during which the accused is permitted to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses.

Next, the defense evidence is recorded, during which the prosecution is allowed to cross-examine the defense witnesses. After this, the lawyers for prosecution and defense make oral arguments before the Court in regard to the evidence, and the conclusion therefrom, regarding the guilt or innocence of the accused. If the Magistrate finds the accused guilty, he passes the sentence, otherwise he acquits him.

SESSIONS TRIAL in Criminal trial process

If the Magistrate is of the opinion that the accused should be committed to trial by Sessions Court, he frames a charge of the offense, which is read and explained to the accused, and passes an order committing the accused to trial by Court of Sessions, and records briefly the reasons for such commitment. A warrant is issued to keep the accused in custody.

The Magistrate sends the charge, the record of inquiry and any weapon or other thing which is to be produced in evidence, to the Court of Sessions. The Magistrate has power to take bond from any witness for appearance in his Court or any other Court to which the case may be transferred for criminal trial process.

At the first hearing, the public prosecutor opens the criminal trial process by describing the charge against the accused and stating the evidence by which he proposes to prove the accused guilty of the offense charged. If after going through the record, and hearing the submissions of the defense and the prosecution, the Judge considers that there is no sufficient ground for proceeding against the accused, he discharges him, recording his reasons for doing so.

Otherwise, the Judge frames a charge which is read out and explained to the accused and his plea is recorded. If he pleads guilty, he may be convicted, otherwise a date is fixed for hearing. The prosecution witnesses are called. Each witness is examined by the prosecutor, and may be cross- examined by the defense, and re-examined by the prosecution, as well as questioned by the Court in criminal trial process.

If, after hearing the prosecution evidence, examining the accused, hearing the prosecution and the defense, the Judge considers that there is no evidence that the accused committed the offense, he passes an order of acquittal. If the accused is not acquitted, he is asked to defend himself. Any written statement submitted by the accused is filed with the record. The defense witnesses are then called.

Each witness is examined by the defense, and may be cross- examined by the prosecutor and re-examined by the defense, and as well as questioned by the Judge. The evidence of all the witnesses is recorded in writing either by Judge himself or by his dictation in open Court. At the conclusion of the evidence, the prosecution sums up the criminal trial process and the accused or his lawyer is entitled to reply, and the prosecutor may enter his submissions if permitted by the Judge.

If the accused is found guilty, he is convicted, otherwise he is acquitted. The judgement in every criminal trial process shall be pronounced in open Court. Copy of judgement is given to the accused. Both the prosecution and defense can appeal to a superior Court against an acquittal or conviction in a lower Court.

When the Court of Sessions passes the sentence of death, the proceedings are submitted to the High Court for confirmation of the sentence.

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