Chapter 6. Trial Procedure

Criminal Trial Procedure

I. Arrest of the Defendant

“when does this occur”?

A. May occur anytime by a police office with a warrant

B. May occur without a warrant if officer has good reason (probable cause) or witnessed a felony or a misdemeanor that involves a breach of peace

II. Rights of the defendant

“Miranda Rights”

A. knowledge of the charge

B. names of police officers

C. telephone call

D. bail

E. remain silent- 5th Amendment (self incrimination)

F. an attorney provided

G. right to a speedy trial- due process

III. Search and Seizure

when they are allowed

A. permission or a search warrant

B. reason to believe there is a hidden weapon

C. an arrest in the accused home

D. search of car if there is reason to believe illegal items contained in vehicle

E. police have the right to impound car until warrant is issued

F. school officials have the right to search students without a warrant

IV. The Arraignment Process

the steps before trial

1. The Judge’s Review: defendant must be brought before a judge immediately after arrest. Judge briefs accused on his/her rights. Judge will determine if there is “cause” to continue or dismiss the case. If there is cause, the judge will refer the case to a prosecuting attorney. Formal charges are now drawn up.

2. Grand Jury: a group of citizens called together to review all information of a case to determine whether there is enough evidence to justify accusing the individual of the crime. An indictment will be handed down if grand jury finds enough justification to proceed with the case. Petty offenses such as misdemeanors, and certain felonies are heard by a Petit Jury.

3. The Arraignment: after the indictment, the accused must submit a plea- guilty or not guilty. A plea of guilty may result in immediate sentencing by the judge. A plea of non guilty sends the case to trial. Bail is sent by the judge.

Civil Trial Procedure

I. Pleadings


1. A complaint must be filed by the plaintiff

2. Complaint must be filed with court

3. Court will issue a summons or notice to the defendant

The defendant must file an answer to the summon or risk losing the case by default of the court. the answer from the defendant must admit or deny the allegations in the complaint. Motion to dismiss.

II. Methods of Discovery

All facts involving the case must be brought forward before a trial take place. Both parties must present all evidence. Most cases are settled after the discovery phase. Settled “out-of-court”. If the court clerk will put the case on the court calender.

III. Pretrial Hearings

Informal hearings before the judge to simplify the issues of the case. The judge will outline the law to the attorneys regarding the case as a final attempt to achieve an out-of-court settlement.

IV. Jury Selection

Jurors are selected from a pool of citizens. Jurors purpose is to determine facts and apply the facts to the law. Attorneys question jurors prior to to determine any biased or prejudice that might effect judgement. Jurors can be dismissed if their judgement in in question. Attorneys will try to select jurors who might fit the case profile.

V. Opening Statements

An introduction of the case made by both attorneys in an attempt to establish their parties intent or rationale in the case. Attorneys will describe to the jury how they intend on presenting  their rationale of the case.

VI. Introduction of Evidence

After opening statements plaintiff’s attorney presents evidence to the jury.

Legal Documents – sales slips, affidavits, bus papers

Actual Evidence- weapons, clothing, etc…

Witnesses- subpoenaed individuals who have observed events relevant to the case

VI. Cross Examinations

Defense cross examination of plaintiff’s witnesses and the presentation of any new evidence or witnesses that supports the defenses case

Plaintiff cross examination of defenses witnesses and the presentation any new evidence

VI. Closing Arguments

Both parties present closing remarks which summarizes the events of the trial and use the witnesses and all actual evidence to support their original rationale.

VI. Instructions to the jury 

Judge will instruct the jury on the legal procedure and laws that pertain to the case in order to produce and accurate verdict.

IX. Verdict and Judgement

Jury deliberates on the facts of the case in a private jury room

Verdict in a civil case can be reached without a unanimous vote of the jurors. A majority must vote “in favor of” or against the defendant.


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