Understanding the Criminal and Civil Justice Systems

Appeals Process Following a conviction and sentencing, a defendant has the right to appeal the case, or in some circumstances the sentence, to a higher court to consider errors in procedure or application of the law at the trial court level. You need to be prepared for this, especially if the sentence is maximum. Most convicted offenders are released on appeal bonds until the appeal is heard, which may be years later. Under the concept of “innocent until proven guilty,” a trial court decision is not considered final until appeals are heard. Probation and Parole Probation is a sentence ordered by a judge, usually instead of, but sometimes in addition to, serving time in jail or prison. It allows the convicted person to live in the community under the supervision of a probation officer. The judge will specify restrictions on the offender’s activities during the probationary period. Violation of the conditions of probation may result in serving time in jail. Parole is the conditional release of a prison inmate after serving part of their sentence, allowing the offender to live in the community under supervision. Parole is granted by a parole board or commission. The parole board may consider factors, such as the offender’s behavior in prison and level of rehabilitation, and let the offender out early. The parole board can also specify restrictions on the person’s activities while on parole. Violation of the conditions of parole may result in revocation and re-imprisonment.


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