Steps in a Criminal Trial in Indiana

Despite the best efforts made by your Evansville criminal defense lawyer, your charges may not be dropped and your case will move on to court. You must be prepared and understand what happens during a criminal trial in Indiana.

Here are the standard phases in a court case for criminal charges:

1. Jury Selection

The first step in a trial is selecting a panel of 12 jurors. According to Indiana laws, persons who are eligible to serve as jurors must meet the following conditions:

  • They must be a citizen of the United States
  • They must be at least 18 years old
  • They must reside in the county where they will serve as juror
  • They must be able to communicate in English
  • They must not be a law enforcement officer
  • They must not suffer from a physical or mental disability preventing them from performing jury duty in a satisfactory manner
  • They must not be under guardianship due to mental incapacity
  • They must not have had their right to vote revoked and not yet reinstated as a result of being convicted of a felony

Both the prosecution and your criminal defense attorney have the right to participate in jury selection by asking questions. This procedure, called voir dire, aims to eliminate individuals who have a biased opinion on the case.

Either party has the right to ask the court to excuse a juror if their opinion or knowledge of the case may impact their ability to be fair and impartial.

2. Opening Statements

A criminal trial in Indiana follows the general steps determined by the US Department of Justice. After jury selection, both the prosecution and the defense will present their opening statements. These are brief outlines of the case.

The prosecution will present the opening statement first, because they have the burden of proving that you committed the crime. Your defense lawyer will state your innocence and give an outline of the facts and evidence to be presented during the trial.

3. Witness Testimony and Cross-Examination

Just like in the case of the opening statements, the prosecution will start by putting its witnesses on the stand to give testimony. The defense attorney has the right to cross-examine them, by asking questions to challenge their testimony.

find out what happens in the courtroom during your trial

The same thing happens with the witnesses supporting your side of the events. After their testimony, the prosecution may cross-examine them, but this is not mandatory.

Some witnesses will be used to introduce physical evidence. For example, a forensic specialist will confirm that a blood sample taken from the defendant’s clothes belongs to the murder victim.

4. The Defendant’s Statement and Cross-Examination

Your Evansville criminal defense attorney will analyze the opportunity of sending you to take the stand and tell your version of the events. The lawyer will consider your ability to tell your story coherently and face the barrage of questions from the prosecutor without losing composure or contradicting yourself.

The fact that you waive your right to testify will not be interpreted as an admission of guilt or in any other manner detrimental to your case.

5. Closing Arguments

The closing arguments will summarize the evidence presented during the trial. Each party will try to persuade the jury that the points presented support their version of the facts.

6. Jury Instruction

Before the jurors retire to deliberate, the judge will instruct the jurors about the law and their duties in order to reach a verdict.

7. Jury Deliberations and Announcement of the Verdict

The jury will retire into a secure facility, where they cannot be contacted by anyone associated with the trial. They are triers of facts, so their duty is to determine, beyond a reasonable doubt, if the facts of the case indicate the defendant to be guilty or not guilty of the crime.

Once they have reached a unanimous verdict, they will inform the judge, the prosecution and the criminal defense lawyer. Everyone will assemble in court to hear the verdict. If the defendant is found not guilty, they will be free to walk away. If they are found guilty, they have the right to file an appeal.

Consult with an Experienced Evansville Criminal Defense Lawyer!

If you are facing a criminal trial, you must have an experienced Evansville criminal defense lawyer to prepare you for the court proceedings and put together a solid case.

With Verdelski Miller by your side, you will have experienced legal counsel, with an impressive record of over 85 jury trials.

Call us as soon as possible after being charged to schedule a free case evaluation at 812-247-6453!

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