Understanding and Preparing for Trial
Facing trial for criminal charges can be the most stressful and terrifying time in anyone’s life. With your future and reputation on the line, it’s important to understand exactly what is about to happen. While a criminal trial attorney in West Palm Beach will be responsible for presenting your defense before the court, it’s easy to get lost and confused by all the legal lingo and formal proceedings. As you are preparing for trial, here are the most important things you need to know.
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishes your right to a fair and speedy trial as well as your right to counsel. Take advantage of this right to protect your future and other constitutional freedoms.
Before your case goes to court, your criminal defense lawyer will build your defense based on the facts of the case. In order to convict, the prosecution will try to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, thus your defense is responsible for countering those attempts. They may do this by arguing against circumstantial evidence, questioning the validity of prosecution witness statements, and presenting evidence of their own. Your attorney may utilize witnesses and expert witnesses to argue against the prosecution.
To assist in your own defense, give your criminal defense lawyer all the information they need. This includes your own detailed account of what happened as well as contact information for anyone who may be able to corroborate your version of events.
Your defense attorney can advise you on whether to elect for a judge or jury trial, both of which have their pros and cons. Depending on the charges, either may be more likely to go in your favor. Your attorney can explain your options for your specific case.
If you choose to move forward with a jury trial, the jury selection process begins. During this time, your criminal trial lawyer in West Palm Beach will select jurors who are unbiased and who they believe can be convinced to rule in your favor.
Following juror selection, your lawyer argues for or against the inclusion of certain pieces of evidence in the case. This includes non-conclusive and circumstantial evidence.
Understanding Trial Phases
Once the pre-trial details have been established, the trial can begin. Opening statements will begin with both the prosecution and the defense presenting their cases to the judge or jury. At this point, no rebuttals are made, but your defense may present a different perspective on the details of the case to establish reasonable doubt.
Following opening statements, the prosecution takes the stand and presents their case in full. This includes presenting evidence and witnesses to speak to the judge or jury on their behalf. Your criminal defense lawyer can object on your behalf if they feel the prosecution is presenting misleading information, ‘asking and answering’ (posing a question then guiding the jury to a specific answer), or making inflammatory statements. The defense will also have the chance to cross-examine the witnesses of the prosecution to attempt to further establish reasonable doubt.
Once the prosecution rests, your team may elect to file a motion to dismiss the case. They can do so if they feel the prosecution has failed to produce enough evidence to convict. If the motion is denied, your trial will move into the next phase and your defense will present your case, followed by another period of cross-examination.
When your criminal defense lawyer rests, the prosecution has the chance to rebuttal, which is the first point in which either side of the trial gets to respond to the other. Following the prosecution rebuttal, the jury will receive their instructions for deliberation and the prosecution gives their closing statements. Your criminal trial attorney in West Palm Beach will then have the opportunity to give their own closing statements and rebuttals. Your trial will end with a final rebuttal from the prosecution and jury deliberation.
Post-Trial and Sentencing
After closing statements, your defense lawyer may once again motion for dismissal. If denied once again, the jury’s verdict is delivered, and sentencing is handed down. If your attorney is not satisfied with the result, they may file for a mistrial or take other steps to otherwise continue working in your favor.
For more information about what you can expect during your trial, contact the Law Office of Patrick R. McKamey for a free consultation.