What to Expect at a Criminal Jury Trial

criminal jury, annapolis criminal law If you have been charged with an aggravated DUI, drug crime, or violent crime, you will need to hire an experienced criminal lawyer in Annapolis. Many DUI, assault, and drug charges do not proceed to trial, but there is always the possibility that your criminal case will not plead out or settle prior to trial. Here is a general look at what you can expect at a typical criminal trial if you elect to be tried by a jury. If you elect to be tried by a Judge the process is similar, but without a jury, the judge is the one who will decide your innocence or guilt.

Jury Selection

The first stage in a criminal trial is the selection of the 12 members of the jury. Both the prosecutor and your criminal defense attorney will have a say in who the jury members are. During the jury selection process, the prosecution and defense will ask potential jurors questions, and will have the opportunity to deny or accept jurors based upon their answers and backgrounds. Your criminal defense attorney’s goal is to select a jury that will be sympathetic to your case and will be moved to rule in your favor.

Opening Statements, Witness Testimony, and Cross-Examination

Both the prosecutor and your criminal lawyer will make opening statements to the judge and jury. Each side will present their interpretation of the facts of the case. The prosecution will explain to the jury what they intend to prove during the trial, and your criminal attorney will rebut the prosecution’s evidence and present a legal defense for the crimes for which you’re accused. Next, each side will present witnesses who will testify as to the facts or mitigating circumstances surrounding the case. Your criminal lawyer can cross examine each of the prosecution’s witnesses, and vice versa.

At your criminal trial, you may elect to testify in your defense, but you are not required to do so. If you choose not to testify the judge will instruct the jury that they may not hold that fact against you, or draw any negative inference from the fact that you declined to testify.

Closing Arguments, Jury Deliberation, and Verdict

Once witness testimony is complete, the prosecution and your criminal attorney will present closing arguments. These arguments sum up the case and reiterate evidence that supports their claims. After closing arguments, the jury will be remanded to a private room where they will discuss the details of the case and the evidence in an attempt to reach a verdict. The jury must reach a unanimous “guilty” or “not guilty” verdict.

Disclaimer: This article provides general information about the topics discussed and does not qualify as legal advice. Every case is different and the laws applicable to each case may differ. If you have a legal matter, you should speak to an attorney to get advice on your particular situation.