If criminal procedure is important to your story — when a suspect will be arraigned, where, how counsel are appointed, procedures for bond hearings, and so on — be sure to check the website for your story court. You’ll find all kinds of useful information. For example, the King County (Washington) Superior Court puts its Criminal Department manual and forms online. The Montana District Court website includes its manual for judges, called the Bench Book, and its bond guidelines. Most courts post their rules and calendars on line, as well as statistics and performance measures.
To find the right court for your story state, check the National Center for State Courts website state-by-state directory, with links to the various levels of courts in each state and a court structure chart, showing which courts handle what matters.
(Image: Old Flathead County Courthouse, now a county office building, from the postcard collection of the Montana Historical Society.)
Note: The first half of the MT Bench Book addresses civil law; criminal law begins on p. 90, with a separate index.
Many thanks for this info. I’m in the midst of researching grand juries for a novel, and this source is extremely helpful.
Glad to help, Dick. I don’t recall blogging about grand juries, but there is some basic Q&A about the process in Books, Crooks & Counselors. Keep in mind that the grand jury process differs among the states — it’s far more common in the east, and is mandatory in much of the federal system — so be sure to look at the law for your story state.
Great resource, Leslie ~ thank you!
Likewise, Thx for info.
All in the spirit of helping writers create even better stories!
Thanks,Leslie! You are so good at finding and sharing resources. This is great.