Acriminal trial is when a jury analyzes evidence and decides whether or not thedefendant is guilty. A trial is a way for the government to argue its caseagainst the defendant in hope of a guilty verdict and conviction. A trial alsogives the defendant a chance to fight against the evidence and try to provetheir innocence. After both the defendant and the prosecution have given theirstatements a jury will deliberate and decide whether or not the defendant is guilty.There are six main phases in a criminal trial: Choosing a jury, openingstatements, witness testimony and cross examination, closing arguments, jury instruction,and jury deliberation and verdict.
The first step in a criminal trialis selecting a jury. To select a jury a judge will question a group of peoplewith questions that relate to the case. The people will also be questioned onpersonal matters and life experiences that could also relate to the case. Basedon the persons answers to the questions a judge, the defense and the prosecutioncan decide whether or not to include or exclude certain jurors. A person mustbe able to be objective to the case in order to become a juror. Once the jury is chosen, a courtdate is set.
The trial begins with opening statements from both the defense andthe prosecution. The opening statements are the first thing said at the trial.One statement comes from the prosecution and the other from the defense. There areno testimonies that go into this stage. The prosecutor gives their detailed statementfirst.
The prosecutor states the facts of the case and explains to the jurywhat the prosecution will be trying to prove that the defendant did. Thedefense follows the prosecutions opening statement with a less detailed statement.This usually includes a different version of the facts and presents thedefenses they will make against the crime. After the opening statements the trialwill continue on into the witness testimonies and cross examination. Each side presentskey evidence to the jury to support their case. The prosecution presentsphysical evidence along with having eyewitnesses called to the stand. Thedefense may also present physical evidence and call upon eyewitnesses to go tothe stand.
Once an eyewitness is called to the stand the opposing side willthen get a chance to cross examine the witness. It starts by having a witnesscalled to the stand where they take an oath to tell the truth. Whomever calledthe witness to the stand directly question the witness through a question andanswer technique.
Once the original party is done questioning the witness the opposingside will then get to cross exam the witness in hopes of discrediting the witness’stestimony. After the cross examination, the original side will then get anotherchance to address the witness, which is known as “re-direct examination” inattempt to repair any questions that may have been made after the crossexamination. After both sides present their evidence and state their case thereis a “rest”. This is when no more evidence can be presented to the jury. Once both sides have finished presentingall their evidence to the jury they will then each have a closing argument. Itis a chance for both sides to summarize their cases. This is the final chancethat both sides have to talk to the jury before they deliberate.
The prosecutorwill try to convince the jury that the defendant is guilty by summarizing the evidence.The defendant will make their last case to try to prove themselves as notguilty either from a lack of evidence or actually having no fault in the crime. From the closing statements the caselies in the juries’ hands. The jury is instructed by the judge. Jury instructionis where a judge gives the jury the set of legal standards it will need todecide whether the defendant is guilty or not. The judge gives the jury insighton the legal principles that they will need to arrive at a conclusion.
Key conceptsare also described and the crime or crimes are defined. From here the case goesto the jury. Following the instruction and insightfrom the judge, the jurors then have to arrive at a verdict. The jury comes tothe verdict after a deliberation period.
This is the first time the jury isactually able to discuss the case with one another. In most cases this verdictmust be a unanimous decision on whether the defendant is guilty or not. If thejury cannot come to a unanimous decision the case will either be dismissed orthere may even be a new trial starting completely over with the jury selection.
This deliberation period can take weeks for the jury to reach a final verdict.Once the jury comes to a verdict they will then let the judge know and thejudge will announce the final verdict in court. A criminal trial is important tocriminal justice. A trial is a place where the facts of a case can bedetermined and a jury can come to a conclusion on whether a person is guilty ofa crime.
For someone accused of a crime it is a chance to prove their innocence.There is always a chance that police can be wrong or the chance of corruption.By taking case to trial it gives the accused a chance to make their case in anonbiased situation. For the victim of the crime it is a chance for revenge andclosure.
I find the criminal trialparticularly interesting. I think it provides a chance for both sides to say whatthey want to say. There are many steps that go into a criminal trial.
I alsothink going through multiple steps to find a non-biased jury is very interesting.Especially in today’s society when biased is a large part of our country. Many peoplehave hidden biases they don’t even know that they have. I think by questioning people’spersonal experiences and personal matters it helps bring light to those underlyingbiases and it gives the defendant a fair and equal opportunity to state theirside of the case. There are so many steps taken in order for criminal trials tobe fair and equal. I think this is important. There still may be some mistakemade where innocent people are falsely accused or guilty people go free, butthere are many steps taken in order to try to prevent that from happening.