Section I: How Can This Book Help You?

Just about everyone is touched in some way by our criminal justice system. You, a relative or a friend may be arrested and charged with a crime. Or perhaps you've been the victim of one. Maybe you're a teacher, social worker or counselor who needs clear answers to pressing questions so you can help others understand how the criminal justice system works. This book is for all of you, and for anyone else who wants to understand a little more about such gripping modern-day dramas as the O.J. Simpson, Menendez brothers and Timothy McVeigh trials.

The book uses an easy-to-understand question-and-answer format to explain the criminal justice system, inside and outside the courtroom. When can a police officer make an arrest? Is it a good idea to talk to the police? Who decides whether to charge someone with a crime, and what crime to charge? Is self-representation ever a good idea in criminal cases? Should defendants conceal their guilt from their attorneys? What factors might convince a judge to release a jailed person on low bail—or waive bail altogether? These are among the hundreds of practical questions the book addresses.

1. Who Can Benefit From This Book?

Many people can benefit from the information in this book:

If you are accused of a crime. If you are facing criminal charges, you should become very familiar with the information in this book, even if you have a lawyer. Your case belongs to you, not to your lawyer, and you will want to be savvy enough about what's going on to intelligently participate in important decisions that are likely to affect its outcome. The more you know, the more likely it is that you will receive high quality legal services, because you will be in a position to insist that they be provided to you.

Defendants' family members and friends. If someone close to you faces criminal charges, you'll want to know what is happening and how you can be of help. Does it matter whether you are there in the courtroom when your friend or relative is arraigned? What factors should you consider if you are asked to post bail or sign a bail application for someone else? How should you respond if asked for your opinion by your friend or relative on whether he or she should plead guilty or ask for a jury trial? What types of support or counseling can you properly offer a friend or relative throughout his or her criminal case? Knowing the answers to these and many other questions will make you a better helper.

Crime victims. Until recent years, crime victims were largely shut out of the criminal justice process. Now victims often play more active roles, for example, by addressing the judge at the time a defendant is sentenced. Thus, if you are a victim, you too will want to understand how the process works and where in the process you can expect to have an impact on how the case is prosecuted.

Concerned citizens. Have you ever watched a trial on TV and wanted to know what all the mumbo-jumbo is about? Complained about the costs associated with crime? Been called for jury duty? Whatever prompts your interest, the criminal justice system belongs to you. You have a right to know how it works. The information in this book tells you what you never learned in high school civics.


  1、 criminal justice system 刑事司法系统

  2、 arrest vt. n逮捕

  3、 charge with 控告

  4、 crime n.犯罪, 犯罪行为

  5、 victim n.受害人, 受害者

  6、 counselor n.顾问, 法律顾问

  7、 trial n 审讯, 审判

  8、 courtroom n.法庭, 审判室

  9、 police officer n.警官, 警员

  10、 self-representation 自己辩护,自我辩护

  11、 defendant n.被告

  12、 attorney [简明英汉词典] n.<美>律师, (业务或法律事务上的)代理人

  13、 judge n.法官, 审判员, 裁判员

  14、 bail n.保释, 保证金, 保证人

  15、 lawyer n.律师

  16、 legal adj.法审, 传讯, 责难

  18、 plead guilty 服罪,认罪

  19、 jury trial 陪审团审判

  20、 prosecute 起诉

2. Is This Book a Step-by-Step Guide to Self-Representation in Criminal Cases?

  No. The book is in no way intended as a detailed guide to self-representation. It is, however, intended to empower criminal defendants by helping them understand every phase of the criminal justice process and what types of defenses and strategies are available to them.

  Except for those who are charged with very minor offenses, defendants almost always will benefit from the advice and counsel of attorneys knowledgeable about the law and the ins and outs of the court where the case will be heard. The basic reasons why self-representation is usually not advisable in criminal cases include:

  · In criminal cases, defendants are up against the power and resources of the government. Individual defendants are no match for the police officers and prosecutors who work in the system every day.

  · The stakes are often high in criminal cases. A conviction may entail a stiff fine, imprisonment, loss of employment and other penalties, such as deportation (of a noncitizen) and the loss of the right to vote and possess a firearm.

  · Judges, prosecutors and jurors are likely to be prejudiced against self-representing defendants. Such defendants are likely to be seen as guilty ''head cases'' who are adding to their sins by trying to disrupt the judicial system.

  · Laws and court practices, the knowledge of which is required for a successful outcome, often are "hidden" in appellate court rulings and unwritten policies which cannot easily be researched.

  While the information in the book will no doubt assist those defendants who choose self-representation, the authors assume that those facing criminal charges for which jail or prison is a possibility are represented by an attorney, either privately retained or appointed at government expense.


  1、 minor offenses 轻罪

  2、 prosecutor n.检察官

  3、 conviction n宣告有罪

  4、 fine 罚金

  5、 imprisonment监禁

  6、 deportation n 遣返,驱逐出境

  7、 right to vote 投票权

  8、 firearm n.枪支

  9、 juror n.陪审员

  10、 appellate court上诉法院

  11、 retain雇用,付费雇用(例如律师)


  1. mumbo-jumbo什么意思呢?

  2. "head cases"什么意思呢?