What are the stages of a typical trial?

  1. Opening Statement:  The parties’ attorneys give opening statements outlining the facts involved in the case.  They will declare what they intend to establish by the evidence to follow.  Opening statements are not evidence.
  2. Evidence:  The City will call witnesses and examine them in an effort to prove the charges against the defendant.  The defendant has the right to cross-examine any of the City’s witnesses.  The City will “rest” its case after presenting all of its evidence.  Next, the defendant may call witnesses to dispute the City’s claims.  After the defendant presents all of his/her evidence, he/she rests.  A defendant in a criminal case may choose not to present evidence.  The City has the right to cross-examine any of the defendant’s witnesses.
  3. Rebuttal:  The City may bring back witnesses who have testified, or bring in other witnesses for the purpose of refuting new issues raised by the defendant’s witnesses.
  4. Closing Arguments:  Following the presentation of evidence, the attorneys for each party will sum up their cases for the jury.  Closing arguments are not evidence.
  5. Jury Instructions:  The judge will give instructions to the jury to define the issues and instruct the jurors on the laws that govern the case.
  6. Deliberations:  Following the closing arguments and jury instructions, the jury retires to the jury room to consider the case and reach a verdict.