Criminal Trial Process Essay

Submitted By dnprl1103
Words: 694
Pages: 3

Criminal Trial
Denise Parnell
Strayer University
Professor: Catherine Terry
May 26, 2013
Assignment: 5

Before a criminal trial can be held, federal and state laws require a series of procedures and events (Carp, 2011). The process of a criminal trial starts when an individual is arrested, or charges are filed for a warrant. After a defendant is formally charged with a crime, the case proceeds to the criminal trial phase (unless the defendant pleads guilty). When or if a criminal defendant pleas “not guilty” to the charges against him/ her a criminal trial will be set. If a trial will be heard by a jury, the jury selection process will take place before the actual trial. Judge or Jury Trial: The defense often has the right to decide whether a case will be tried to a judge or jury, but in some jurisdictions both the prosecution and the defense have the right to demand a jury trial. Juries consist of 12 persons in serious felony cases, but some states allow for as few as six person juries in less serious misdemeanor cases. A complete criminal trial typically consists of six main phases, each of which is described in more detail below:

1. Jury selection 2. Opening statements 3. Presentation of case 4. Closing statements 5. Jury deliberation 6. Verdict At some point the criminal may be faced with the decision of whether to take a plea, or proceed on to trial. Depending on the charges a criminal face, his/her ability to negotiate a favorable plea bargain with the prosecutor’s office is varied. For charges that are more serious though, the plea bargain offers are typically less generous. If a defendant agrees to a plea agreement, they are agreeing to plead guilty or no contest to a crime, which will establish a criminal record. Some of the more common incentives for a defendant to accept plea bargain agreements include: 1. Reduction of number of charges faced 2. Reduction of the severity of the charges faced 3. Reduction of overall sentence 4. Ability to end incarceration with time already served 5. Reducing potentially stigmatizing offenses from one’s record, such as sex offenses 6. Avoiding the drawn out process of criminal trial, including the potential publicity, hassles, and involving others in a given case Right to trial by jury may be a fundamental right under the Constitution, but choosing between a jury trial or a judge trial (also known as a bench trial) can make the difference between guilty or not guilty. If you are going to be representing yourself in court, you would probably be better off to opt to have your case heard in front of a judge and not a jury. If