What to Expect at Trial
April 3, 2023
According to the 2021 Court Statistics Report, there were 4,054,484 total criminal filings in California Superior Courts in the Fiscal Year 2020. When a person is arrested and charged with a crime, a trial may be required to establish whether or not the defendant is guilty of the allegations. During the trial, the facts and evidence of your case will be presented to the judge or jury, who will determine your fate.
If you’re facing criminal charges and your case proceeds to trial, it is essential that you understand what to expect. At McCready Law Group, I have everything necessary to assist clients in their criminal cases. As a California criminal defense attorney, I can analyze the facts of your case, educate you about what to expect during the trial, and help build an effective defense to fight your charges. I proudly serve clients across Long Beach, Lakewood, and Cypress Hill, California.
Understanding the Criminal Trial Process
The criminal trial process in California involves the following stages:
Investigation: Once the police receive a report or complaint about a crime, an investigation will be conducted. Criminal investigations in California may include obtaining search warrants, interviewing witnesses, and gathering evidence.
Arrest: Upon gathering substantial evidence, law enforcement may arrest a suspect for violating the law or committing a crime. If you’re arrested by the police, you will be put into custody. You may need to post a bond or bail before you’re released from jail. In some cases, bail may be determined during the arraignment.
Arraignment and Indictment: After an arrest, the alleged defendant will be brought before a magistrate judge. The arraignment is your first appearance in court. During the arraignment, the judge will advise you of your rights and read your charges to you. Also, you will be allowed to plead not guilty, guilty, or no contest (nolo contendere).
Pretrial Hearing: Pretrial hearings comprise all court procedures that occur before a criminal trial. These include court appearances, discovery, motions, plea deals, or negotiations. Also, evidence will be exchanged, and some legal issues will be resolved at the pretrial hearing as well.
Trial: However, if your case isn’t resolved during the pretrial proceedings or the parties are unable to reach an agreement through a plea deal, your case will move to the trial phase. In California, trials may either be a bench trial or a jury trial.
Bench Trial – In a bench trial, the judge will act as both the judge and jury. In most cases, misdemeanor offenses are heard and tried in bench trials.
Jury Trial – Conversely, in a jury trial, a jury comprising 12 members of the community will be chosen to hear the evidence against the offender and their defense. Felony cases are eligible for a jury trial. The jury will determine whether the defendant is guilty or innocent.
Once you’ve been arrested, it is important that you hire an attorney immediately to protect your rights, help you prepare for trial, or walk you through the next steps in the legal process.
Steps to Take Before Your Trial
Here are some vital steps to take before your trial:
Hire an experienced attorney to handle your case.
Read and understand the complaints thoroughly.
Understand the nature of your charges and possible penalties.
Gather substantial evidence and facts
Gather witness statements and testimonies
Prepare for the pretrial hearings
On the day of the trial, arrive early, remain calm, and be well-prepared. A knowledgeable lawyer can prep you extensively for your trial and fully explain what to expect.
What to Expect at Your Trial
Here’s what to expect in a typical criminal trial in California:
Jury Selection: The trial starts with jury selection. A panel of prospective jurors will be sent to the courtroom for questioning until 12 persons are accepted as jurors for the trial.
Opening Statements: Once the trial starts, the defense counsel and the prosecutor will make their opening statements telling the court about the case and what they expect the evidence to show.
Presentation of Evidence: Also, both lawyers will present evidence and exhibits to prove or disprove the charges. These may include presenting written documents and physical evidence or calling upon witnesses to testify about what they heard or saw under oath.
Closing Statements: Once the court has reviewed all the evidence, both the defense counsel and the prosecutor will give their closing statements or final summary of the case. The closing statement is the last effort to convince the jury or judge about the case. Deliberations will begin after the closing arguments.
Verdict: After deliberation, the jury or judge will issue a verdict. The verdict will determine whether the defendant is innocent or guilty.
Steps to Take Following Your Trial
Once the jury or judge reaches a verdict at trial, there are still some steps you need to take after the trial, depending on the outcome of your case. If you’re found not guilty, you may be discharged and acquitted.
However, if you’re found guilty, you may be sentenced immediately or scheduled for another court date. Also, you may consider the possibility of appealing the guilty verdict. A trusted attorney can enlighten you about your possible legal options and help you make informed decisions.
Helping You Along the Way
Facing criminal charges can be a terrifying experience. Nonetheless, understanding the trial process that lies ahead of you is crucial to gain confidence and navigating crucial decisions. At McCready Law Group, we have the diligence and skill to advise and represent individuals who have been wrongfully charged with a crime.
Using my broad understanding, I can help you navigate the California criminal justice system and represent you intelligently at every phase of the trial process. Above all, I will fight aggressively to defend your rights, dispute the allegations against you with factual evidence, and improve your prospects of a better tomorrow.
Don’t face your criminal charges or go through the trial alone. Contact McCready Law Group today to schedule a case assessment with a strategic criminal defense lawyer. I proudly serve clients across Long Beach, Lakewood, and Cypress Hill, California.