What happens when you go to trial?

Since you've been charged with a crime, one of the things you're concerned about is what happens if the case goes to trial. Depending on the purpose of the trial, it might vary slightly, but most follow the same format.

In a trial, the judge or jury looks at both sides of the case. They hear evidence and listen to each side's story. After everything is discussed, the judge or jury makes a decision about whether or not you're liable or guilty for the actions you're accused of.

There are six stages to a trial. The first is choosing a jury. A jury must be chosen from a randomly selected group. Out of that group, your attorney needs to help make sure there is no bias against you due to experiences in the juror's past or his or her personal opinions.

The next stages include the opening statements, witness testimony and cross-examination and closing arguments. During these phases, your attorney helps you state your case and cross-examines witnesses to make sure they're being as truthful as possible.

After this, the jury receives instructions from the court, and then is excused to deliberate on the case. Once it makes a decision, the jury returns to deliver a verdict. If there is no jury, the judge rules on the case by him or herself.

Your attorney can talk to you more about the specifics of your case and the potential for going to trial. If you do need to go to trial, he or she can assist you in preparing for that day.

Source: FindLaw, "What Happens at Trial?," accessed June 09, 2017

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