If your case gets all the way to a jury trial, here is what you can expect. First, a jury is selected. Approximately 100 citizens are brought to court. The judge, defense attorney and prosecutor question them in an effort to find 12 fair and impartial jurors. Next, the judge decides whether certain evidence will be allowed during the trial. Once that happens, each side makes an opening statement to the judge and jury. An opening statement is a speech the attorneys give to the jurors telling them about the evidence that will be presented at trial. After opening statements, the prosecution calls witnesses to present its case. The defense has an opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses, and then the prosecution can ask them questions once more, called a redirect, before resting their case. After the prosecution has finished presenting their case, the defense may present their case. The defense may call and question witnesses and present evidence. Just like before, the prosecution gets a chance to cross-examine the defense’s witnesses, and the defense can redirect, or ask follow-up questions before they rest their case. The defense may not call witnesses or present evidence if they feel that the prosecutor has not proven their case.
After both sides present their case, the judge, prosecution and defense decide what instructions to give the jury, and then each side gives their closing arguments. The closing arguments are the chance for each side to argue that the evidence proves their points. For the prosecutor, that is that the defendant is guilty, and for the defense, that he or she is not guilty. The judge then explains to the jury how to fulfill its duties, and what laws apply to their decision, before all twelve jurors leave the courtroom to deliberate and come to a decision.
A jury trial is one of the most complex stages of a criminal case, and it is crucial you have a skilled California Criminal Defense Attorney on your side.