What To Expect at a Criminal Trial
Although it is possible, it is highly advised against representing yourself in court. This is especially so when arrested on criminal charges. The criminal law is a complicated one and you need someone well informed to help you through the case. Hiring an experienced federal criminal lawyer San Diego is always the best way forward after any arrest. Away from that, let us look at what happens at a criminal trial.
After being charged with a crime, you usually have two options. You can choose the bench trial or the jury trial. With the bench trial, the judge decides your case whereas with the jury trial, 12 people appointed as jurors must agree that you are either innocent or guilty. The judge will then use the ruling of the jury to sentence you. Always consult with your federal criminal lawyer San Diego before making your choice.
Getting the jury
The first step in a jury trial is handpicking 12 people who will judge your criminal case. The picking of the jury is done by your federal criminal lawyer San Diego and the prosecutor. The individuals chosen are first asked a series of questions to make sure no one will vote unfairly. This process of questing is known as the ‘voir dire’.
Explaining your case
After the jury has been selected, the trial begins. The prosecutor goes first. He presents evidence to show that you are guilty. This is known as the ‘opening statement(s)’. At this time, the federal criminal lawyer San Diego you are working with can refute any information the prosecutor gives including questioning the witnesses. Once this is done, your lawyer will stand and explain your case. Again, the prosecutor can refute the information presented and question your witnesses.
Proving the case
To prove your case, your federal criminal lawyer San Diego will present evidence that proves you are innocent. If your lawyer’s evidence is stronger than that of the prosecution, you get a higher chance of winning the case. During trial, the lawyer and the prosecution will both bring witnesses to testify, offer exhibits and contest the evidence of the other. Today, the evidence presented is electronic.
After arguing their cases, both lawyers will give closing statements. With these statements, they will be addressing the jury. They give a recap of their evidence and try to convince the jury to vote in their favor. If a federal criminal lawyer San Diego feels the prosecutor did not make a good case, he can file a motion which asks the judge to acquit you. At this time, the judge can dismiss your case before it goes to the jury or ask the jury to ‘deliberate’. It is during deliberation that the jury comes up with an unanimous decision. The judge will sentence you based on the ruling of the jury.
An important point to note is that if the jury unanimously decides you are innocent, the prosecutor cannot charge you with the same crime. However, if even one juror had a different opinion, this brings the case of a mistrial. In this case, your federal criminal lawyer San Diego and the prosecutor will have to go through the process all over again.