The Trial is the part of the criminal justice system that people are most familiar. This is the opportunity for the prosecutor to call forth her witnesses and display her evidence in the attempt to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant is guilty of the crime.
Trials can be held before a judge or a jury, depending on the request of the defendant.
The defendant and his attorney will have the opportunity to cross examine all of the prosecutor’s witnesses. The defendant and his attorney will make a opening argument to the jury or judge. The defense can subpoena any witnesses which would provide evidence to assist the defendant’s case.
The defendant will have the opportunity to testify or “take the stand” if he wishes, but if he declines the jury will be told that no inference of guilt can be taken from that fact. Finally, both the prosecutor and the defense will have the chance to give closing arguments.
Then the judge or jury will deliberate and announce the verdict.
If the verdict is not guilty, the case will end and the defendant will be free to go. If the fact-finder renders a guilty verdict, a Sentencing Hearing may be set.