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The Journal Gazette on 05/12/2017 by Jessie Cook

The dual goals of our criminal justice system are to maximize public safety and to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice.

The system operates with five components – law enforcement, prosecutors, defense attorneys, the judiciary and corrections. Each plays a key role in the process.

Law enforcement agencies investigate allegations of acts determined to be illegal by Congress or state legislatures.

Investigations begin when an agency or officer suspects that a crime has been committed or when the agency receives a citizen’s complaint or a report from a crime victim.

After receiving investigative reports, prosecuting attorneys determine whether criminal charges should be filed. Proposed charges may be submitted to a grand jury or to a judge who then determines whether there is sufficient probable cause to proceed with prosecution.

Prosecutors are not simply responsible for obtaining convictions. Their job is to obtain justice for the accused, the community and the victim.

A person accused of a crime is arrested or summoned to appear in court. He has the right to be considered for release before trial. He should be released pre-trial unless the state convinces a judge that he is a flight risk or a danger to the community. A person should not be held in jail simply because he lacks the money to post bail.

Everyone accused of a crime has the right to be represented by an attorney and, if the accused is facing a jail or prison sentence and is without funds, he has the right to a court-appointed attorney. It is the job of the defense attorney to ensure that the defendant’s constitutional rights are protected and to represent him zealously within the bounds of the law.