What Can Happen When Going to Trial

March 4, 2022

Are you planning on going to trial soon? Are you curious about the procedures and order of events in a trial? In 2018, 80,000 people were defendants in federal criminal cases of which 90% pleaded guilty.

If you are worried about finding a lawyer or how to act in the courtroom then read on to learn everything you need to know about going to trial. 

What You Need to Know Before Going to Trial

Before you go to trial, there are some useful pieces of information you should know. There are two types of lawsuits in the US – civil and criminal. A criminal lawsuit is when you are charged with a crime.

Civil lawsuits can be more complicated and can include divorce, breach of contract, or child custody. Whether your case is criminal or civil, several stages that take place before the trial begins to determine the details of the case. Finding a lawyer is an important step to take before you go to trial. 

A lawyer will assist you with your case and help you decide whether to settle or go to trial

Order of Events

Setting foot in the courtroom for the first time can be intimidating if you are unfamiliar with the order of events that take place on the day of your trial. Most trials will proceed similarly. Once a jury has been selected and everyone has been seated, the trial will begin.

Opening Statements

Each lawyer will begin the trial by making their opening statements which will give the jury a general overview of the case. This will also include any evidence that lawyers wish to present during the trial. Opening statements are not part of the evidence.

Usually, the prosecuting party will read their opening statements first followed by the defense.

Presentation of Evidence

The party with the burden of proof will present their evidence first to the jury (or judge in the case of a bench trial). This will include documents, physical evidence, and witness testimony. 

Once the prosecuting party has presented their evidence it is then the turn of the defense to present their evidence. 

Closing Statements

Once both parties have presented their evidence, they will give their closing statements. These statements are used to summarize their evidence to support their side. The prosecuting party will give their closing statement first followed by the defendant. 

The Verdict

After the closing statements, the jury will then decide what their verdict is. The judge will read a statement to the jury explaining the law and everything they need to consider before they reach their verdict. The jury will isolate themselves while they come to a final decision. 

Once the jury reads the verdict to the court, the defendant is then given a date for sentencing within 90 days of the trial. The judge will then provide a sentence that is appropriate for the crime committed. They will take into account the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history of the defendant. 

Be Prepared for the Courtroom

Each case can move through the courts at different speeds depending on the offense and where you go to trial. Finding a lawyer that will support you when going to trial and help you make the best decisions is important if you want the best outcome from your case. 

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