Trial Process

What Occurs During the Trial Process?

With a plea of Not Guilty in a misdemeanor case, the case is scheduled for trial. The trial is either a Bench Trial or a Jury Trial. In a Bench Trial the case is tried and presented to the Judge to determine guilt or innocence. In a Jury Trial the case is tried and presented to a jury of peers from the community to determine guilt or innocence.

Trials proceed in the following manner:
  • Opening Statements: Both sides of the case give statements as to the evidence and testimony they will be presenting during the trial. Opening Statements are not evidence.
  • Prosecutor's Case-in-Chief: The prosecutor will call witnesses and present evidence in the case. The prosecutor will ask questions of the witness and the court will then allow the defense to cross-examine the witness. The defense may question the witness and enter evidence as to this witness' testimony. The prosecutor may then ask follow-up questions in redirect examination of the witness. When the prosecutor is finished with this process for all witnesses, the prosecutor rests its case.
  • Defense Case-in-Chief: The defendant presents their case in the same manner as the prosecutor did above or the defendant may choose not to present a case or testify. The defendant would then rest.
  • Closing Arguments: Both parties may give brief closing statements designed to help the court make its decision in the case.