In what ways might a criminal case end?

The government accusing you of a crime can be a very disorienting and frightening experience. Understanding as much as you can about the processes associated with criminal law is of paramount importance during this time.

The good news is that while no two criminal cases may be the same, there are a certain number of very common outcomes for criminal cases, no matter how serious the charges at hand are. According to FindLaw, there are five common ways for a criminal investigation to end.

What are the most common non-trial endings? 

Three out of the five most common ways for criminal investigations to end do not involve a courtroom or a jury. The first most common outcome is for the police to conduct an investigation but not arrest anybody.

The second most common outcome is that the police do arrest somebody, and that person enters into a plea bargain. This is when the accused pleads guilty in return for leniency. The third is when the police arrest somebody, but the court dismisses the case before it can get to a jury (usually for misconduct on the part of the police).

In fact, many cases end before they get to a jury trial. Particularly for misdemeanor crimes, plea bargaining is very common.

What are the most common trial endings? 

The final two most common endings to criminal proceedings is the case going to the jury. At this point, there are only two serious outcomes: the first that the jury finds the defendant not guilty. The second is that the jury finds the defendant guilty.