A criminal court case is where a person is charged with a crime that is criminal in nature. Laws fall into two categories: either criminal or civil. A criminal crime is seeking a criminal conviction against the accused person and often this includes time spent in prison. During a criminal trial the prosecution is representing the government and is working to ensure a guilty verdict is reached. The defence is representing the accused and is working to prove the innocence of the defendant.
Trial By Judge or Jury. In a criminal trial the defence can request a trial by only a judge or with a jury. In some jurisdictions the prosecution can also have a say in demanding a trial by jury. If there is a trial by jury then both the defence and the prosecution are involved in selecting the members of the jury. Pre Trial. Prior to the trial the defence and prosecution meet to request to the judge that certain evidence is dismissed or included in the trial. The judge then has the say on excluding evidence or admitting it. If a piece of evidence is excluded it cannot be used during the trial to support the prosecution or the defence.
The Trial. A trial begins with opening statements from both the prosecution and the defence. The prosecution goes first and states the facts of the case and the reasons why this case has gone to trial. The prosecution also outlines what they are proving that the defendant did, why they did it and how. Once the prosecution has stated their case the defence will present the accuseds version of the facts of the case. Witness and Evidence. In order to prove their case the prosecution will call forward witnesses who under oath testify against the defendant. The prosecution will also call forward key evidence. Once the prosecution has presented their witness, the defence has the opportunity to cross-examine that person and attempt to show the flaws in their testimony. The prosecution can then re-examine their witness if damage has been done to their case by the cross-examination of the defence.
Closing Arguments. The closing arguments by the prosecution is the last chance for them to prove the guilt of the defendant to the jury. The defence then gives a closing argument as to why the defendant is not guilty. The Verdict. During a trial by jury, the jury will retire to deliberate on their verdict. The jury needs to decide their verdict based on the legal standards set out by the judge presiding the trial. A jury needs to deliver an unanimous verdict, meaning all parties need to agree if the jury finds the defendant guilty or not guilty. Conviction. Once the jury has delivered their verdict the judge will announce their ruling and if the person is found guilty the sentencing.