Formal and Informal Justice
These formal Justice cases receive a full measure of rights and procedures. The formal Justice process contains 15 stages, each of which is a decision point through which cases flow. The 15 steps are the following. ) Initial contact 2) Investigation 3) Arrest 4) Custody 5) Charging 6) Preliminary Hearing/Grand Jury 7) Arraignment ) Bail/Detention 9) Plea Bargaining 10) Trial/AdJudication 1 1) Sentencing/Disposition 12) Appeal/ Post Conviction Remedies 1 3) Correctional Treatment 15) Post Release Justice expert Herbert Packer described the formal criminal Justice process as an “assembly line conveyor belt” which moves an endless stream of cases. Criminal acts that are very serious may receive the full process that the criminal justice system has to offer, from arrest to trial.
However, less serious cases are often ettled long before the formal process has run full course, this is known as informal justice. Informal Justice can also be described as the cooperation between the offender and the law. This cooperation can take place pre or post conviction.
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For example, police may be willing to make a deal with a suspect to gain cooperation or a prosecutor may bargain with a defense attorney to get a plea of guilty as charged for a promise of leniency. I see informal Justice as a compromise to benefit both parties.
I feel that informal Justice is an important tool in the criminal Justice system. Sometimes you have to work with petty criminals to take down more violent offenders and in other cases, accept plea bargains in order to ensure that the accused receives punishment. In other instance plea bargains are very important so that victims are not re-victimized throughout the trial process. It’s important to get some cases in and out of the system as quickly as possible to avoid court overload and so more attention can be paid to more serious offenses.