What Happens in a Criminal Trial - Guide (2024)

July 9, 2024

A criminal trial is a complicated procedure and a lot of legal jargon makes it even more confusing. Especially, if you’ve never been to a criminal lawyer.

A good criminal lawyer can make the trial process smooth and easier for you. They guide you through the process and usually prep you for the trial.

This article will help you understand it. We'll explain each step in easy words. You'll learn what happens from the start to the end. This information will help you know how courts work.

Things To Expect in a Criminal Trial

The Jury Selection Process

The trial starts by selecting a jury. Lawyers ask people questions to make sure that their is no bias involved.

They want fair people for the jury. They send away people who they expect are even a tiny bit biased. This goes on until they have enough jurors. The jurors promise to be fair and only use what they hear in court to make their choice.

Opening Statements

After they pick the jury, the trial begins. The prosecutor speaks first.They tell what they think happened. They say what proof they will show. Then, the defense lawyer presents their evidence. They might tell a different story. Or they might wait to talk later. This helps the jury know what to expect.

These statements help the jury what to expect during the trial and helps to give them an idea about the case.

Presentation of Evidence

Next, the government's lawyer brings in witnesses to give their statements in court. These might be police, experts, or eyewitnesses of the crime. The lawyer asks them questions. Then, the other lawyer can ask questions too. They try to find problems in what people say.

After that, the accused person's lawyer can bring in people to talk. They might show things that say the accused didn't do it. The prosecutor can ask these people questions too. Sometimes, the accused person talks. But they don't have to if they don't want to.

Closing Arguments

When all the proof is shown, the lawyers give their closing arguments. The government's lawyer goes first. They talk about all the proof that says the accused did it. Then the other lawyer talks. They point out weaknesses in the prosecution's case.

They remind the jury that guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and give the nost important points of the case.

Jury Deliberation

The judge tells the jury about the laws. The jury goes to a room alone. They talk about everything they heard. They try to decide if the accused did it or not. This can take a short or long time. This can take hours, days, or even weeks. They must decide if the defendant is guilty or not guilty.


When the jury decides, they come back to the court. The judge reads what they decided. If they say "not guilty," the accused can go free. If they say "guilty," the judge will decide the punishment later. Sometimes, the jury can't agree. If this happens, they might have a new trial.


If they say the accused is guilty, there's a meeting about the punishment. The judge picks the punishment. They think about how bad the crime was and if the person did bad things before. The punishment might be jail, paying money, or checking in with someone who watches them.


After the trial, the side that lost can ask another court to look at the case.This process is called appeal. They look for mistakes that might have changed how things turned out. If they find big mistakes, they might say to have a new trial. This can take a long time.


Criminal trials are conducted carefully because due diligence is required. The rights of the accused have to be protected and the crime has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

The process starts from the jury selection, presentation of evidence, and closing arguments. Then the jury deliberates the case and decides the verdict. The judge then hands the sentence or acquits the defendant.

Every case is different and the court process can vary case to case. But this information gives you a little starting point to build your knowledge base on.


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