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The process of a trial: What to expect

A criminal trial has many steps, but as someone facing charges, you first need to understand how to present yourself. It should be your priority to put your best foot forward and to look your best while following the rules of the court. Avoid interrupting the judge or anyone else, and be concise when you're asked to speak.

Your case will go through several steps before you have to worry about a full-blown trial. First, a jury has to be chosen. The jury is meant to be unbiased, so your attorney will have some say in who is chosen. The judge may also excuse potential jurors who may be biased before they are involved in the case.

Opening statements take place next. During this time, each side makes its case known to the jury and judge. A good opening statement makes a difference, so your attorney will prepare it carefully.

Witness testimonies and cross-examinations happen next, giving witnesses a chance to speak and for attorneys to question them. Following this, closing arguments take place, giving your attorney a chance to summarize and persuade the jury to your side. Finally, the jury is instructed on applicable laws or principles before being allowed to deliberate on the case. The jury comes to a verdict, giving the judge the group's decision on what should happen to the defendant. Usually, the jury has to be unanimous in its decision, but if it can't do so, the case may be called a mistrial and have to start over again with a new jury. If this happens, your attorney can help prepare you for a second trial in court.

Source: FindLaw, "Criminal Trial Overview," accessed Jan. 17, 2018

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