Trial Process

This description of the trial process is provided to give witnesses a general understanding of what to expect when they testify in court

Before Trial

In all cases, the defendant will be arraigned on the charges and a trial date will be set. In felony cases, the charges are presented to the grand jury and the defendant will be arraigned a second time before a trial date is set.

Witnesses will receive a subpoena, which shows the date, time, and location in our office where they are expected to appear and testify. Witnesses should read the subpoena and call the phone number provided in the gray shaded area to confirm the trial date.

Day of Trial

Witnesses meet with the Deputy DA before the trial begins. The Deputy DA will tell the witnesses the courtroom number where they will testify. Witnesses will normally wait outside the courtroom until the Deputy DA calls them in, so that their testimony is not influenced by the testimony of other witnesses. If you have any concerns about your safety or about waiting in an area separate from the defendant’s family or friends, you should contact our office.

Trial

After the judge is on the bench and the jury members are selected, the trial begins with opening statements. Opening statements are previews of the evidence from the attorney for each side; the Deputy DA will go first.

After opening statements, the Deputy DA will present the evidence for the prosecution, which may include your testimony. Next, the defense will present its evidence. The attorneys on each side will have a chance to ask questions of each witness.

After all of the evidence is presented, each side will make their closing arguments. Closing arguments are summaries of the case from the attorney for each side. After closing arguments, the trier-of-fact (the judge or the jury) will decide if the defendant is guilty or not guilty.

Sentencing

In a jury trial, if the jury cannot agree, then the case can be tried again; if the jury decides that the defendant is guilty, then the judge, not the jury (except in aggravated murder cases), will impose the punishment or sentence.