Trial - Indiana Criminal Litigation Process
In the event that a case proceeds to trial, there are several important matters to consider. What evidence to present, how to attack the State's case, and which arguments will best sway the Judge or Jury must all be thought of.
In Major Felony cases, such as Class A, B or C Felonies, a 12-person jury is selected from the community to hear a case. In Class D Felony cases, a 6-person jury is selected. The jury selection process is extremely important part of the case as the people who could decide the defendant's fate are chosen by the Defense and the State. Having a knowledgeable attorney participate in this process could make the difference between a finding of guilty or not guilty.
At a Jury trial, the case is presented to the jury which weighs the evidence and issues its verdict. At Jury trials, the judge acts as a referee, making legal decisions and ensuring that the rules are followed throughout the trial.
In Misdemeanor cases, the case is set for a court or bench trial. This means that the case is tried to a judge, not a jury, and the judge decides the outcome. However, a request for a jury trial can be made in misdemeanor cases. It is important that the attorney knows the deadlines associated with that process.
At trial, the State has the burden of proving the elements of criminal offenses beyond a reasonable doubt. The State presents its case first. As each witness is presented, the defense has the opportunity to cross examine the witness. After the close of the State's case, the Defense has the opportunity to present any evidence it wishes to put before the jury. Once all the evidence is closed, the Judge or Jury deliberates and renders a verdict.
It is important that a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney assist the Defendant at any type of trial. Knowledge of the rules and of the techniques necessary for skilled advocacy can make the difference between a good and bad result.