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The term “remand” has two different legal meanings. In one sense, it can refer to sending a case back to a lower court so that the court can take an action ordered by a higher court. This term is also used when discussing sending people into custody. Latin roots for “back” and “order” can be seen in this word, which sound be interpreted as “to send back.”
Cases are sent back to lower courts in a remand when a higher court uncovers a procedural error. This usually happens as the result of an appeal. The appellant demonstrates that the case was not tried in accordance with the law, and the appellate court remands the case back to the lower court. The court must correct the error, which can involve trying the case again. An example of an error which might lead an upper court to remand a case for action by a lower court might be a situation in which evidence was suppressed because it was believed to violate the rules of evidence, but the upper court believes that it should have been introduced in the trial.
If there are no procedural errors, the higher court can agree to hear the case on appeal to determine whether or not the lower court returned a fair verdict. The higher court considers the information as presented in court, precedent set by similar cases, and the rule of law. If it agrees with the lower court, it will deny the appeal, arguing that the previous legal decision was in fact correct. Many court systems allow people to move through several layers of appellate courts.
A court can also issue an order to remand someone to jail. This may be done when it is believed that a prisoner needs to remain jailed to await trial or a legal hearing. A prisoner can also be released with the understanding that she or he will return to the court for proceedings. People may refer to a remand in the sense of an order to return to court to face a proceeding, which may include a trial.
When a prisoner is remanded to jail, it does not mean that she or he is guilty. It simply indicates that the person needs to be held in detention pending further legal action. It can be costly to keep people in jail which leads the legal system to avoid remanding people unless it is deemed necessary because of the circumstances of the case. If a prisoner poses a flight risk or may be in danger, however, a remand to jail may be advised.
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