Trial

A trial is the proceeding where the prosecution attempts to convict a person accused of a crime. A trial occurs in a courtroom before a judge. The judge is the "referee" and the final decision-maker in a trial. If the defendant has waived her right to a jury, the judge may also act as the fact-finder and determine guilt or innocence. Also present in the courtroom are the judge's court clerk, who receives and marks evidence. The court reporter sits near the bench and transcribes, word-for-word, all utterances in the courtroom. If the court reporter fails to accurately transcribe the proceedings, the defendant may be entitled to a new trial. The bailiff, a law enforcement officer, maintains security, and is assigned to the court with the responsibility of overseeing the conduct of all the participants.

The bailiff may also be responsible for transporting a defendant who has remained in jail between her holding cell and the courtroom. Additionally, the bailiff secures the jury during trial breaks and deliberation, and acts as a go-between for the jury, since the judge, attorneys, defendant and witnesses may not interact with the jury.

A trial proceeds under specific rules of procedure and evidence. Rules of procedure govern the pretrial dealings between the prosecution and the defendant's attorney (or the defendant if she is representing herself) regarding "discovery," whereby each side is informed of the other's theories and evidence. At trial, the rules set out the procedure for selection of the jury, the order of opening and closing statements, the presentation of the evidence, the examination and cross-examination of witnesses and the judge's instructions to the jury when it deliberates.

Our use of cookies

We use necessary cookies to make our site work. We would also like to set some optional cookies. We won't set these optional cookies unless you enable them. Please choose whether this site may use optional cookies by selecting 'On' or 'Off' for each category below. Using this tool will set a cookie on your device to remember your preferences.

For more detailed information about the cookies we use, see our Cookie notice.

Necessary cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Performance cookies

We'd like to set cookies to help us to improve our website by collecting and reporting information on how you use it. For more information on these cookies, please see our Cookie notice. The cookies collect information in an anonymous form. Data is only used in aggregate.

Functionality cookies

We'd like to set cookies to provide you with a better customer experience. For more information on these cookies, please see our Cookie notice.