There are no hard or fast rules or procedures when it comes to criminal law. The type of offence and circumstances surrounding the offence determines exceptions or additional requirements when it comes to arrest and the trial.
Typically, criminal proceedings usually start with either an arrest by a peace officer when an offence was committed in front of him or her, an arrest by a member of the public (such as a security guard), or by someone laying a charge at a police station.
If the criminal proceedings starts with an arrest, there are a variety of procedures and rules that needs to be followed. Some offences you may not be arrested for, while other offences require additional procedures to be followed for the arrest and subsequent detainment to be lawful.
Let us take an example for instance of possession of a suspected stolen item (be it a motor vehicle, a spanner, a television or a wheelbarrow full of cash). The police must have reasonable suspicion that the item is stolen, and the police officer MUST inquire why you are in possession of the item. To determine if there was reasonable suspicion, varies greatly from the circumstance, but if it can be explained in a nutshell, walking around with a television at 2 o'clock in the morning, as opposed to 2 o'clock in the afternoon, makes a big difference when it comes to reasonable suspicion.
If an arrest is made, you may make a statement, and depending on the statement, you may be charged at that stage, or a later stage. The moment the police charge you, a bail application will follow.
Should someone open a charge at a police station, the police may contact you, requesting you to come in, to make a statement. Should you go in, depending on the stage where the inquiry is at, and your statement, the police may either charge you, or conduct further investigations. It is however strongly advisable that you contact an attorney before making any statement at a police station.
When you have been charged, and a bail application has been brought, the matter proceed in court.
There are a variety of ways to finalize a criminal matter, which will not result in a conviction, criminal record or a fine and or imprisonment. The ways available to finalize a matter will depend on the nature of the offence, and the circumstances surrounding the offence, and the person whom committed the offence.
In any criminal matter, at the first available opportunity, it is very strongly advised to contact an attorney. Our firm is available 24/7 for any criminal related matters, and an attorney can directly be contacted on 064 904 4973 to assist on an urgent basis.