What are the stages of a trial?

Trials generally consist of several distinct stages:

  • Jury selection. In a jury trial, the court and the parties question prospective jurors to determine who they feel is best-qualified to hear the case.
  • Opening statements. The prosecutor first must, and then the defense may, give the jury, or the court in a non-jury trial, a synopsis of the evidence that they expect to be presented at the trial. Opening statements assist the jury or the court by providing a framework for understanding the evidence to be presented.
  • The People’s direct case. The prosecutor must present enough evidence to support a legally sufficient case proving the defendant’s guilt. Each witness that the prosecutor calls will first be subject to a direct examination by the prosecutor, to be followed by a cross-examination by the defense attorney, if the defense decides to do so.
  • The defendant’s direct case. The defendant may, but is not obligated to, present evidence in his own defense. Defense witnesses are subjected to direct and cross-examination in a manner similar to People’s witnesses.
  • Summations. After all the evidence is received, first the defendant, and then the prosecutor, deliver a closing argument, or summation, to the jury or, in a non-jury trial, to the court. Summations summarize the evidence and provide the jury or the court with arguments that each party believes the evidence supports.
  • Jury charge. In a jury trial, after both parties have presented a summation, the court must provide the jury with an explanation of the law. The charge must contain all of the legal rules relevant to the case, so that the jury is aware of what rules it is required to follow in deciding the defendant’s guilt or non-guilt.
  • Deliberations and verdict. After the jury charge in a jury trial, or the summations in a non-jury trial, the jury or the court will retire to consider the evidence and render its verdict. If the defendant is acquitted, that is, found not guilty, of every offense with which he is charged, he is discharged from court. For any charge of which the defendant is found guilty, he must be sentenced.

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1. What types of offenses are there in New York?
2. What happens when someone is arrested?
3. What is the function of the District Attorney?
4. What is an arraignment?
5. What is bail and how is it set?
6. What happens to a misdemeanor or violation case after arraignment?
7. What happens to a felony case after arraignment?
8. Are grand jury proceedings open to the public?
9. What happens after a grand jury votes an indictment?
10. What is a trial?
11. What are the stages of a trial?
12. What types of sentences may be imposed if a person pleads guilty or is found guilty after a trial?
13. Can a convicted defendant or the District Attorney take a case to a higher court?