What is a Criminal Trial?

What is a Criminal Trial?

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What is a Criminal Trial? If you plead not guilty to a crime, it’s
the State’s burden to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and the State does this at a criminal trial. Hi, I’m Shawn Hamp. I’m a Trial Attorney
and Criminal Defense Lawyer practicing law here in Mohave County, Arizona. When a defendant is charged with a crime,
they’re presumed innocent until proven guilty. So, a prosecution has to prove someone guilty at
a trial. Now, in all felony cases, DUI cases and theft cases, this has to be a trial by jury. In most misdemeanor
cases it’s a bench trial. Now, a criminal trial basically goes through
different stages. The first part of the criminal trial are opening statements. So, the lawyers in the case will
give the trier a fact, whether it’s a jury or a judge a preview of what the evidence is going to be presented
at the trial. Those are called opening statements. It’s not argument, it’s just a preview of what evidence
is going to be presented, a sneak peek if you will. So, after the opening statements, the prosecution
goes first and presents their evidence. Why does prosecution go first? Well, that’s because
the prosecution has the burden of proof, so they have to go first. They—it’s their burden and the burden
never shifts to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. So, the State has to present evidence
first. Now, after the State is done presenting it’s evidence, it will tell the court that the State rests and
that they have presented all the evidence that they intend to present. Now, after the State presents their evidence
a defendant or defense attorney has the opportunity to argue what’s called a directed verdict or a motion
for a directed verdict called a Motion for Rule 20. So, what the defense argues at that point is that, after
the State has presented all their evidence, if there is no evidence to show that the defendant committed that
crime based on what was presented at trial, the Court could enter a direct verdict. Now, most of the time these motions are denied
because the State has presented some evidence to prove a defendant guilty. So, it is then the defense
attorney’s turn to present evidence on their own behalf. Now, a defendant doesn’t have to present evidence
on their own behalf because the State has the burden. But, the defendant chooses to present evidence,
that’s the time when they’ll present their case. Now, after the defense has presented their evidence, the
defense will rest and if the State wants to, because they still have the burden, the State could present rebuttal
evidence at that point. Now, after all the evidence is concluded,
the lawyers will present closing arguments. So, arguments are presented to the judge or the jury and the
attorneys argue about what inferences can be made by the evidence presented, and give reasons why the
defendant is either guilty or not guilty of the crimes they are charged with. After the closing arguments
are made, the jury will then deliberate on a defendant’s guilt or innocence, or if it’s a bench trial, the
Judge will make a ruling on the record about the defendant’s guilt or innocence, or may take the matter under advisement
and consider all the evidence that was presented before a verdict on a defendant’s guilt
or innocence. Then, after that verdict is made and if there
is a guilty verdict that’s given, the Court will then set the case later for a judgment and sentencing. The criminal
trial is the pinnacle of what a criminal defense attorney does. It’s the most critical proceeding
in any criminal case. It is always best to find an experienced trial lawyer to represent you at a trial. And, if you have any questions about a criminal
case, please give my office a call. Let’s find out if your case is something we can help you with. Call
my office at 928-753-6868 or visit my website at HampLaw.com.

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