Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, you have a right to a jury trial. This means that you have a right to have 12 jurors, or members of the community, decide whether the prosecution has proven the charges against you “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The first step in a jury trial is usually called “motions in limine.” These are the motions that both sides file to determine what evidence will be admitted and what evidence should be kept out.
After that, both sides pick a jury in a process called “voir dire.” First, the judge will ask questions of the jurors and make sure that they can be fair to both sides. Then, the prosecution and the defense will question the jurors further. Both the prosecution and the defense have a right to excuse a certain number of jurors, usually 10, but neither side may eliminate a juror based on their ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, or religious affiliation.
Once the jury is sworn, both sides give opening statements. Then, the prosecution presents its witnesses and evidence, followed by the defense witnesses and evidence. After that, the prosecution gets one last opportunity to present evidence, called “rebuttal.” The prosecution gets to go first and last because they have the “burden of proof.”
Once the evidence is in, the judge instructs the jury on the law and then the jury deliberates. A jury verdict must be unanimous, which means that the jurors all must agree. If the jurors find the defendant not guilty, then the defendant cannot be tried again for the same crime. If the jurors find the defendant guilty, then the case will be set for sentencing. If the jurors are unable to agree on a verdict, then the result is known as a “hung jury,” and the prosecution has the option to try the case again.
As a criminal defense attorney with over 25 years of experience, Mr. Rios has tried dozens of cases to verdict and will use his skills as a seasoned trial attorney to benefit you.