How Does the Criminal Court Process Work?

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Mass Law Online was recently contacted by a reader who was injured in an accident in Virginia. They were working with a personal injury attorney in Richmond on a case that might go to trial. They were wondering whether personal injury trials are similar to criminal trials. 

We took this opportunity to discuss with our readers how the criminal court process works. Not everyone knows how court proceedings go, and the process can be intimidating for many people. The more you understand about the criminal court process, the less anxiety and stress you will feel if you ever have to go through the criminal trial process.

The Basic Steps to the Criminal Court Process

When you take a criminal court case to trial, these are the basic steps you will go through:

  1. The jury will be selected. This might take a day or two while the prosecution and defense teams go through jury selection, eliminating anyone they believe would have a bias against you.
  2. The trial will begin with opening statements. Each side gets to present an opening statement. The prosecution will try to paint you as a criminal. The defense team will try to portray you as innocent of the crime you’re accused of.
  3. Next is evidence presentation; this can be a lengthy process as both sides get to present evidence such as witnesses, physical evidence, video evidence, photos, and expert witnesses. Each side will have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses.
  4. Closing statements will begin. This is when each side will summarize their version of what happened. The prosecution will try to show how the evidence proves your guilt. The defense team will try to show how the evidence does not prove your guilt.
  5. The jury will deliberate. This can take an hour to several days. The jury must reach a unanimous decision on the verdict.
  6. The verdict is declared.
  7. If you are found guilty, there will be a final stage for sentencing. 

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Hopefully you now have a better understanding of how the criminal process works. Thanks for visiting Mass Law Online, the law library with “massive” amounts of legal information at your fingertips. Learn more about laws and processes that affect your life. You have every right to have access to legal information you need to live your life.