If you are arrested for a crime in Philadelphia, you will likely face a criminal trial.
The criminal justice system can be confusing and stressful for just about anyone. This confusion and stress is only compounded if you are unfamiliar with the steps of the criminal justice process.
The purpose of a criminal trial is for a jury of your peers to examine the evidence against you and determine if you committed the crime. You are innocent until proven guilty, and the burden is on the prosecutor to convince the jury that you committed the crime. Here are five steps of a typical trial:
- Selecting the Jury. The judge, your attorney, and the prosecutor will have an opportunity to question prospective jury members, exclude certain jurors, and make their selections for the jury at this stage.
- Making Opening Statements. The prosecutor and the defense will open the trial and address the jury for the first time at this stage. The opening statement typically consists of presenting the facts of the case and giving a guide for the jury as to what the attorney hopes to prove.
- Presenting Evidence and Witnesses. Each side will have an opportunity to argue their case by presenting evidence and witnesses. The other side will also have an opportunity to rebut the evidence or cross-examine the witnesses.
- Making Closing Arguments. After both sides have argued their cases, they will have the chance to make closing arguments. This typically consists of summing up the case and why you are guilty or not guilty.
- Having the Jury Deliberate. The jury will be given instructions by the judge regarding the legal standard to find guilt. The jury as a group will then consider the case during deliberation. This process can last several hours or several weeks.
If you have been convicted of a crime and are facing a criminal law trial, you should contact an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorney.