What are the Steps of a Criminal Trial?

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Why You Should Have a Criminal Law Attorney When Charged with a Crime

When you are charged with a criminal offense either by the federal or state government, there is a possibility that you will be going through a criminal trial unless you take a plea bargain. A trial is what determines whether you are guilty or not. In the event that you are facing a criminal charge in the Bay Area, it is critical that you work with a reputable San Jose criminal law attorney right from the beginning.

Steps in a Criminal Trial

The criminal trial process is made up of six phases which include:

Jury selection

The first step in any criminal trial involves selecting the jury. The defendant (represented by his or her attorney) and the government (represented by the judge or the prosecutor) screens and selects 12 potential jurors through a process known as voir dire questioning. The questioning of the jurors is necessary to evaluate whether they have ideological dispositions, which may cause them to be biased.

Opening statements

At the beginning of your court trial, the prosecution and defense present their opening statements to the jury. At this point, both sides give their version of what took place and give the jury an outline of the case.

Testimonies from witnesses and their cross-examination

The prosecution also presents evidence which shows that the defendant is guilty. Both sides call upon witnesses to support their claim. Either side has the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses and negate some of the issues the witnesses raise.

Closing arguments

The prosecution is normally the first to present their closing statements. The prosecutor reminds the jury of his or her arguments, testimonies and facts presented, and ask for a guilty verdict. The defense follows suit to poke holes in the prosecutor’s arguments and ask the jury to consider a not guilty plea.

Jury instruction

The judge instructs the jury on how they should apply the law when analyzing the case.

Jury deliberations and the verdict

The jury deliberates on the case in a jury room after which they come up with a unanimous verdict. If the jury cannot come to a unanimous decision, the case is declared a mistrial. If found guilty, your attorney may file a motion to overrule this verdict. The progress of your case depends on whether the judge overrules this motion or not.

Our San Jose Criminal Defense Attorneys are Here to Help You

A criminal proceeding is quite complex as rules and procedures must be followed. At the Law Office of Farling, Hecht & Davis, LLP we have reputable San Jose attorneys who will provide you with an objective view of your case during the initial consultation. As your case proceeds, our San Jose lawyers will not only coach you but also aggressively represent you so that your charges are minimized or dismissed altogether. Contact us anytime through our website or by calling (408) 295-6100.