In a criminal trial, jurors from the community are called in. These are people who have driver’s licenses and live in that county. The first thing they will go through is what’s called voir dire. This is where the judge, defense counsel, and prosecutor ask the jurors a variety of questions. The main purpose is to make sure that the jurors can be fair. The defense will want jurors that will hold the state to its burden of producing enough evidence to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. After the jurors are selected, the prosecutor will read the charge(s) to the jury, and the state will give its opening statement. The defense is then given the option of presenting an opening statement. The defense will typically use this time to present its opening statement rather than waiting until after the state concludes its case-in-chief.
After opening statements, the state will present its case in-chief. They will call witnesses to the stand and ask them questions. Then, the defense attorney will have an opportunity to cross-examine those witnesses. Once the prosecution rests its case, the defense will demur to the evidence outside the presence of the jury. The demur essentially means that the defense does not believe that state has put on enough evidence to proceed with the case. In essence, this is a request for the judge to dismiss the case, which typically does not happen. The defendant will then have an opportunity to put on their case. Again, this is optional. The defendant is not required to present evidence. The state will give its rebuttal, and then the defense will renew the demur. Once again, the judge will likely not side with the defense, and the case will proceed.
The jury will be out of the room while the prosecutor and the defense counsel work with the judge to finalize jury instructions. Then, the judge will bring the jury back in and read the instructions to them. The state gives their closing argument first, then the defense gets their one and only opportunity to give closing arguments. Finally, the state closes the trial with their rebuttal closing argument. After that, the jurors will be released to the jury room to deliberate.
Can Counseling Or Treatment Affect The Outcome Of A Trial?
Counseling does not typically help the outcome of a trial, but it can improve the plea offer from the prosecutor. There are variety of classes that defendants will be required to take if they plead to a sentence that has some sort of probation. These include the Alcohol & Drug Substance Abuse Counseling (ADSAC), which is for people who are arrested for DUI or drug crimes. There are also other classes that can be taken such as the Batterer’s Intervention Program, which is for people who have been arrested for domestic violence crimes. Defendants can also take a variety of other classes such as anger management, parenting, and classes geared towards people who have been arrested for theft crimes.
A defendant can also take drug and alcohol classes or participate in an inpatient or an outpatient drug rehabilitation program. If a defendant has the means to participate in an inpatient rehabilitation program, they absolutely should, as it is the best possible thing that they can do for their case. It is highly recommended that anyone with pending charges take some sort of classes whether they believe the case will be dismissed, go to trial, or end in a negotiated plea deal. The most likely outcome in most cases is a negotiated plea, so taking classes early is one of the best ways to improve the plea deal.
Is The Punishment From A Trial Worse Than A Plea Deal?
The punishment from a trial is not always worse than the plea deal. When going to trial, the goal is to achieve a better outcome than the plea deal. Going to trial is a complete unknown, and that is why a defendant needs to be very confident that the outcome—even if found guilty—would be better than the outcome of a plea deal. If the evidence is very much against the defendant, and it is a particularly bad crime—especially one in which emotions are likely to play a factor—then it’s probably not a good idea to go to trial. The defendant’s criminal history must also be taken into consideration when deciding whether to go to trial because the jury will almost assuredly find out that criminal history if they find the defendant guilty. Jurors don’t typically have much sympathy for people who are repeat felony offenders.
There is really no way of knowing exactly what the verdict of a trial will be; it’s a roll of the dice. However, one thing to consider when going to trial is that the defendant would not have to take the various classes that they would have to take if they were on probation. Additionally, the defendant will not owe prosecution reimbursement and probation supervision fees if found guilty—because they’ll be in prison or jail instead.
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