AdBlock Detected

It looks like you're using an ad-blocker!

Our team work realy hard to produce quality content on this website and we noticed you have ad-blocking enabled.


14 Steps in Criminal Proceedings

Criminal proceedings as noted by Justia, develop in series of stages. It start with a victim of crime making report to law enforcement agency, who follows it up and ensure that the santity of law is protected.


At the end, the suspect is convicted or acquitted. But behind the scene, criminal case goes through a lot of rigorous stages.

These 14 Steps in a Criminal Trial can be classified into three: Pre-trial Stage, Trial Stage, Post-trial Stage.

Pre-trial Stage

This is the preliminary stage of criminal prosecution. This stages encompasses all the preliminary steps taken to ensure that a person alleged to have violated the law is punished accordingly and this steps include:


a. Report of crime.

A person against whom an offence is committed, report such crime to law enforcement agencies like police. In Nigeria, you can write petition to police through your lawyer. You can also walk into the police station and make an entry with the police.

This first step opens the door for every other steps in criminal prosecution. It is also worthy to note that it is not only a person against whom an offence has been committed that makes a report to police.It is a the duty of citizen to always report incidence of crime.

Again, this stage of report can be overtaken by event where the accused person was caught in the act that constitute an offence.

b. Investigation

After report of crime has been made, the next step is investigation of the crime alleged to have been committed. The police investigate the allegation and if a prima facie case has been made out, the police will go on to arrest the suspect.

See also  Who is an advocate: Qualities of an Advocate

However, investigation will not be necessary where the accused person was caught commiting the crime.

c. Arrest.

At this stage, the suspect is apprehended. Police can arrest any body suspected to have committed a crime.

Private individual can as well arrest anyone who is suspected to have committed a crime or who was caught in the act of commiting a crime.

Where individual arrests a suspect, the suspect will be handed over to police without delay.

d. Bail

Whenever a suspect has been arrested, by either police or individual, the suspect is entitled to bail. Although this depends on the nature of the offence alleged to have been committed. The police can grant an accused person bail or detain the accused person pending when the charge sheet is ready.

e. Drafting of Charge.

At this stage, the police will draft a charge sheet against the accused person. It is this charge sheet that contain the offence committed and particulars of the offence. Also, the suspect will be arraigned in court base on the counts in the charge sheet. The drafting of the charges ends the Pre-trial Stage of criminal prosecution.

Trial Stage.


Criminal trial starts with arraignment of an accused person in court. The suspect will be arraigned in court that has jurisdiction to try the offence charged.

Arraignment of an accused person is just the process of bringing the accused person to court to answer to the criminal charge. On the first day, the suspect will be produce in court.The law is that the accused person will be arraigned unfettered (without handcuffs).

The charge will be read to him to the satisfaction of court that he understood same. The suspect will then be required to take his plea.

See also  Court Order: Injunctions and Types

b. Plea.

By plea, the accused person will either plead not guild or plead guilty to the charge. In Nigeria, the accused person may also raise issue of jurisdiction, refuse to take his plea, keep mute, plead guilty to a lesser offence not charged or plead not guilty by reason of insanity. These are the various options available to an accused person upon arraignment and each of them has implications.

Again, the plea of an accused person determine what will happy next in the criminal trial. Where an accused person pleads not guilty, the case will go into hearing. But where he pleads guilty, the court can convict him on his plea without going into hearing if the offence charged is simple offence.

But if it is Capital offence, the court will still enter not guilty for the accused person regardless of his plea and the prosecution will be required to proof the crime beyond reasonable doubts.

c. Bail.

Immediately after the plea, and assuming the accused person pleaded not guilty, the counsel for the accused person will pray to court for the bail of the accused person. This bail is different from the police administrative bail.This bail is necessary because upon arraignment, the previous bail granted by police elapse.

d. Trial or Hearing.

After plea and bail, the matter goes into hearing. At this stage, parties are heard. As noted by Justia, this is the most important stage in criminal trial.

The prosecution opens it’s case by calling witnesses to proof the essential ingredients of the offence alleged. At the end of the prosecution’s case, the Defendant (accused person) calls his witnesses to rebutt the evidence of the prosecution. The Defendant after calling witnesses also closes it’s case. This bring to an end the hearing stage.

See also  Jurisdiction of Courts in Nigeria

Note also, it is not in all cases that the Defendant will enter defence. The Defendant may in some instances enter No case submission against the prosecution.

Post-trial Stage.

a.Adoption of Final Addresses.

At the end of hearing, both prosecution and Defendant will file their final written addresses. Final Written Address is just the summary or highlights of the cases of both parties. It is written and filed and adopted before the court.


This is also one of the most significant stages of criminal case, the trial court gives it’s verdict on the charge before the court. The court in it’s judgement may either convict the accused person as charged or discharge and acquit the accused person.

In some cases, where there are many counts, the court can as well convict the accused person in some counts proved, and discharged the accused person in the other ones not proved.

c. Allocutus

After an accused person has been convicted, the court will call for allocutus. Allocutus is the stage where the convict’s counsel appeal to the emotions of the judges and pray for lenient sentence or punishment.

d. Sentencing

After allocutus, the judge will sentence the convict to terms of imprisonment or option of fine. The court can also, order the convict to pay fine and still serve jail terms. In sentencing, the court has discretion to impose a particular number of years not below the years specified by status.

e. Appeal.

Where a convict wishes to challenge the judgement of court that find him guilty as charged, he can appeal against the judgement.While processing the appeal, he can as well file for bail pending appeal. In Nigeria, appeal goes from magistrate court to High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme court. Apeal brings to an end all the stages of criminal case.


Related Posts