While a civil case implies that a citizen is bringing charges on a citizen, a criminal case implies that the state of North Carolina is prosecuting the suspect for the charges filed.
For a criminal case to begin the first step involves the documenting of circumstances and evidence found at the crime seen. The documentation done by the police will form the police report. The prime suspect of the crime could be charged with misdemeanor, felony or infraction. An infraction would require the guilty to pay a fine, while in case of felony or misdemeanor; the law enforcement official would need to arrest the suspect, for which an arrest warrant would be sought. An arrest warrant can only be issued by a judge; therefore the police report needs to be handed over to a judge, who will decide whether or not there is a need for an arrest. The arrest warrant will be issued if there is a reasonable case.
After the issuing of the arrest warrant, the law enforcement official will attempt to arrest the suspect. This procedure may take time in some cases where the suspect might try to hide from the police. A preliminary hearing is the next step, once the suspect gets arrested. After the arrest arraignment is conducted, wherein the suspect has to plea, guilty or not guilty. If the suspect enters the plea as guilty, then most of the case is over, all that needs to be done includes the judge to declare his or her judgment.
However, if the suspect was to plea not guilty to all the charges filed, then a full-fledged criminal case would begin. This would involve further investigation of the crime by law enforcement officers and the debate of the circumstances in the court in front of the Judge. At this point the suspect should hire a lawyer, since the lawyer would best know the legal aspects of the case and would be able to better defend the suspect.
The suspect does have the option to select a judge or a jury to decide the outcome of the case. A jury would be the best option to remove any bias in case of a widely talked about case, especially the ones with media coverage. Finally, once the facts have been confirmed the judge or the jury will reach a conclusion and the sentence will be imposed by the judge.