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Bucher Law Group, LLC

Understanding the criminal trial process

 Posted on August 18, 2017 in Criminal Defense

Criminal Trial Process

Being accused of a crime is anything but an easy circumstance to face. While some residents in Wisconsin feel as is they have no option but to accept their fate, criminal defendants should be fully aware of their legal options. Asserting a defense, no matter how severe the charge or how many charges one faces, is always an option. Thus, it is important to understand the criminal defense strategies available.

While spending time in a courtroom is anything but appealing, it is an atmosphere that could grant a defendant freedom or access to lesser charges. Therefore, it is imperative to consider going to trial and to understand the procedure he or she is about to embark on.

When it comes to the criminal trial process, there are six phases to be aware of. The first phase involves jury selection. In a jury trial, a pool of potential jurors will be questioned, determining if they are fit to act as a juror in the case. Through peremptory challenges and challenges for cause, the defense and prosecution can exclude jurors for both non-discriminatory reasons and reasons that lead one to believe that a potential juror cannot be objective when deciding the case.

The next phase is opening statements. This is the first dialogue in a case, allowing both sides to make a statement regarding the case. This phase is followed by witness testimony and cross-examination. Once all evidence has been presented and witnesses questioned, closing arguments occur. This sums up the case, emphasizing the evidence pertinent to the decision on the case.

Once closing arguments are complete, the jury instruction will be made. This is where a judge will give a jury a set of legal standards needed to determine whether a defendant is guilty or not guilty. This is followed by the final phase, which is jury deliberation and verdict. This involves the jury discussing the matter and attempting to agree on whether a defendant is guilty or not. Once a decision is made, a verdict will be delivered to the judge.

While the criminal trial process might seem very formal and intimidating, it is a procedure that could greatly benefit a defendant. It not only helps to provide the evidence involved in the case, but it can also help a defendant obtain a favorable ruling. Asserting a criminal defense is the accused's best chance at having their charges reduced or dismissed, or obtaining an acquittal. Thus, it is important to understand what defense strategies are available to you, as there may be options at every phase of the trial process.

Source: FindLaw, "Criminal Trial Overview," accessed August 13, 2017

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