A criminal case is a type of court proceeding in which a prosecutor employed by the federal, state, or local government charges a person with the commission of a crime. Criminal cases generally begin after the person is arrested and informed of their charges, usually at a hearing known as an indictment. In criminal cases, the defendant is always considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court. When a court holds a person guilty of committing a crime, that may result in a sentence under criminal law. Such sentences may be imprisonment, an order to pay a fine, community service or a combination of the three.
[Last updated in March of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]