How does a criminal trial work?

If you've been accused of a crime and charged, you may have to go through a trial. The trial is usually in front of a judge or judge and jury. It is the prosecution's goal to show that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, so your priority is to show that there is reasonable doubt in the case.

There are six stages of a criminal trial including the jury selection, opening statements, cross-examination and witness testimonies, closing arguments, instruction for the jury and deliberation. After the deliberation takes place, a verdict is issued.

Jury selection is one of the most important parts of the trial, and getting the wrong jury can influence the outcome of the case. You have a right to challenge the use of a juror in some cases. For instance, if you know someone in the jury or if the jury is biased against you, then the people who could be discriminatory can be dismissed with a challenge.

Once a jury has been selected, opening statements are given. This is when your defense attorney speaks about the case, interpreting facts and presenting your case to the jury for the first time. Your attorney may point out legal defenses and begin to refute any evidence that has been given.

After this, witnesses can be called and cross-examined by the prosecution and defense. The witness takes an oath to be truthful, and your attorney will work to have the witness speak in a way that puts you in a good light.

Closing arguments take place after this, and your attorney will describe why you couldn't have committed a crime or why you shouldn't be held accountable if you did. The jury takes this information away to deliberate and comes back with a verdict later that day or several days later, depending on the case.

Source: FindLaw, "Criminal Trial Overview," accessed Dec. 23, 2016

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How does a criminal trial work? | The Viorst Law Offices, P.C.