What Will Happen at the Trial?
Oct. 13, 2023
The mere thought of standing in front of the judge in the courtroom can be stressful and intimidating enough. At times like these, it may feel like the entire world is against you. However, much of that stress and fear is rooted in the lack of understanding of the criminal trial process.
If you are facing criminal charges and your case is headed to trial, I can walk you through every step of the criminal trial process to ensure that you are prepared for the journey ahead of you. As a criminal defense attorney at Walker Law LLC, I have helped hundreds of clients facing criminal charges in Chesterfield, Missouri, and other parts of the state, including Town and Country, Cottleville, and throughout Charles and St. Louis counties.
Overview of the Criminal Trial Process in Missouri
Below is a brief overview of the criminal trial process in Missouri:
Pre-trial preparation. As the name suggests, the purpose of this step is to ensure that all parties are prepared to go to trial. For the accused and their defense attorney, this stage involves extensive preparation, including gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and developing a strategic defense plan.
Jury selection. In Missouri, people facing criminal charges have a right to trial by jury, and jury selection is the first formal step in jury trials. Both sides (the prosecution and the defense) will participate in the jury selection process to choose the individuals who will serve on a jury during the trial process.
Opening statements. Once jurors are selected and the trial begins, both parties will make opening statements to outline the facts of the case. Opening statements serve as the road map for the jury to follow.
Presentation of evidence. After the opening statements are made, both sides will present the evidence and call witnesses to testify to support their arguments. In most cases, the outcome of the case depends on how compelling and strong each party’s evidence is.
Cross-examination of witnesses. Both the prosecution and the defense will have the opportunity to cross-examine each other’s witnesses. Cross-examination involves questioning a witness called by the other party to find inconsistencies and challenge their testimony.
Closing arguments. The next step in the criminal trial process is closing arguments. Both sides summarize their respective cases in an effort to persuade the jurors to rule in their favor.
Verdict and sentencing. At the end of the trial, the jury will retire to a separate room to begin deliberating and reach a verdict. If the defendant is found not guilty, he or she will be acquitted of the charges. However, if the verdict is “guilty,” the case will go to sentencing, where the judge will decide what penalty should be given to punish the defendant.
Understanding what happens at each stage of the trial process may not be enough to reach a favorable resolution of your case. You might want to consider hiring an experienced attorney to represent your best interests throughout the process and fight for justice in the court of law.
How to Prepare for Your Trial
Now that you know what happens at the trial, it is crucial to start preparing for the trial as early as possible. Some of the steps you can take to prepare include:
Hiring an attorney. One of the most important things you can do when facing criminal charges is to get legal advice from a skilled attorney. Your attorney will work tirelessly to help resolve your case in your favor without having to go through the nerve-wracking trial process. However, if a favorable deal cannot be reached, your attorney will be ready to represent your best interests at trial.
Beginning gathering documentation. A criminal trial may involve countless documents from both sides. When developing a defense strategy, the defense will need to produce documents that help prove their arguments. Some of these documents may not be readily available and may require some time and effort to obtain.
Preparing a strong defense. If you plead “not guilty” and your case goes to court, you must start working on your defense strategy as soon as possible. There may be various defenses available to you depending on the unique facts of your case and the strength of the prosecution’s evidence against you. Your attorney will assess the situation to help you identify and pursue your best defense options.
Maintaining proper behavior. Many defendants do not realize how impactful their behavior can be when it comes to criminal trials. Some of the rules of court etiquette are: be on time, turn off your cell phone and other electronic devices, rise to show respect when the judge enters the courtroom, always address the judge as “your honor,” do not chew gum, and wear appropriate clothing. Your attorney will usually educate you on how to behave in court before the trial.
The steps you take in preparation for your trial can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. As an attorney at Walker Law LLC, I explain the courtroom process, walk you through every step of the way, and ensure that you are fully prepared for everything.
You Deserve a Strong Defense
As your defense attorney, I have the expertise and resources necessary to formulate a strong defense strategy tailored to the facts of your case. At Walker Law LLC, I am dedicated to working tirelessly to ensure that your rights are protected at every step of the process as your criminal trial case unfolds. Let me help you alleviate the stress and fear you may be experiencing right now. Reach out now for a free consultation.