Being accused of murder is serious, and it's a matter that requires the insight of a knowledgeable West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney. In a criminal trial involving an allegation of murder, there are several different stages for the case. It is important to understand these stages if you have been accused so that you know what to expect and how to plan ahead.
Check here to learn more about the typical stages in the primary stages of a criminal trial. In summary, a criminal trial can include the following steps:
- The selection of the jury
- Opening statements
- Testimonies from witnesses and cross-examination of witnesses
- Closing arguments
- Jury deliberation
- Rendering of a verdict
A criminal defense attorney can help to explain the criminal trial process in the state of the Florida, and can even guide you through your own criminal case.
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Read more information about the primary stages of a criminal trial with a West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney.
Criminal Trial Stages: Explained
1. Jury Selection – The jury is responsible for examining the evidence in a murder case to determine whether the defendant committed the crime in question. The key factor in a case like this is beyond a reasonable doubt.
A criminal trial is the government's official opportunity to argue that the defendant is guilty, but it is also your chance (through your criminal defense attorney) to offer your own evidence or argue against the government's evidence. Once each side has had an opportunity to present their case, the jury then considers whether or not the evidence presents, beyond a reasonable doubt, whether the defendant is guilty or not.
There are exceptions to when a jury is used, but a murder trial will nearly always have selection of a jury. The judge and attorneys involved in the case will ask possible jurors questions to determine whether or not these individuals are eligible and equipped to hear the facts and arguments of the case. Based on potential juror answers, the judge can exercise discretion during this process to excuse individuals who are not a good fit for various reasons.
The defense and the prosecution, too, can excuse a particular number of jurors through challenges for cause and peremptory challenges.
2. Opening Statements – The initial arguments made by the criminal prosecutor and your criminal defense attorney help to frame the case and this is why opening statements are some of the most important aspects in any murder trial. There are no witnesses or evidence presented during the opening statement. Both sides will have an opening statement about the interpretation of the facts within a case and how that particular side intends to prove either guilt or lack of guilt/evidence.
3. Witness Testimony – It likely comes as no surprise that the testimony of witnesses is crucial for the outcome of the case. This is the opportunity for each side to present their most compelling evidence to the jury, and this is why examination of witnesses often takes a significant amount of time. During the process of hearing witness testimony, one or both sides are also likely to introduce evidence like videos, photos, medical reports, or documents.
4. Closing Arguments – After all the witness testimony has been heard in the murder case, the defense attorney and the government both get a chance to sum up their main arguments. The government will usually recap their strongest evidence presented in a trial while the defense will likely attempt to poke holes in what was presented by the government. This is a critical time for both parties to leave an impression on the jury's mind.
5. Jury Deliberation – Before handing off the case to the jury, the judge will instruct the jury about their job and then the jury will enter deliberations. This is the chance for the jury members to vote and discuss the case. It could take a few hours or a few weeks. Once they have reached a decision, it will be shared by the judge in court.
6. Rendering a Verdict – And, finally…the moment we've all been waiting for. This is the final stage of a criminal trial when a jury reaches a verdict after spending some time deliberating and reviewing the facts and evidence in a case. This is the last part of the trial which determines if the person on trial is guilty or not guilty.
If found guilty, then the Florida Court will move forward with the charges and punishments. If found not guilty, then all charges will be dropped and the person will be free to go.
Visit this site to learn more about the possible charges and punishments according to the Florida Court.
Let a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney Guide You
As you can see, there are many elements in a criminal murder case and you should always take each one seriously by hiring a knowledgeable West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney. Knowing what to expect can make a difficult situation easier to manage. You won't have to go through a trial alone, as your criminal defense attorney will be by your side every step of the way to ensure your rights are protected and you are well represented during the proceedings.
Check out the Farkas & Crowley legal team to find out more about how a West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney can guide you.