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Understand what can occur in a criminal justice trial

Many criminal cases are resolved before they ever make it to a trial. For the ones that do end up going to trial, there are often some misconceptions about what happens during these trials. It is imperative that any defendant who is taking their case to trial have a basic understanding of what will happen during the trial.

The first step in the criminal trial is the jury selection. This process involves the prosecution and defense because each side has the right to call the suitability of a juror into question. Once the jury is chosen, the criminal trial can proceed.

The prosecution and defense will each give opening statements. This lets the jury know what to expect during the trial. It is the first chance that the attorneys have to make their case.

When the attorneys finish their opening statements, the testimony portion of the trial begins. This is when each side will call witnesses to the stand. Once the side that called the witness is done questioning the witness, which is known as direct examination, the other side can also question the witness. The questioning by the second side is called cross examination.

The trial wraps up with each side giving a closing argument, which outlines their case again. The jurors are then given instructions and the case is handed to them to decide. When the jury reaches a decision, the decision is announced in court and the case either ends if the person is found not guilty or moves to the sentencing phase if the person is found guilty.

There are various considerations that the defense has to keep in mind at each point of the trial. Knowing what these are and how to handle them is imperative.

Source: FindLaw, "Criminal Trial Overview," accessed Feb. 03, 2017

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