The Trial

The trial is the time set aside by the court for you, as the defendant, to fight the charges the State has brought against you. The State, represented by the prosecutor, has the responsibility to prove the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt.


Since you are representing yourself, the judge will most likely begin the trial with a brief explanation of what will take place during the trial. Some judges may ask you if you have any questions. Do not be afraid to ask a question if you have one.


Since the State has the burden of proving the charges against you, the State presents its case first. The prosecutor will make an opening statement. After the prosecutor makes an opening statement, you are allowed to make your opening statement.


The opening statements are followed by the State’s case-in-chief. This is the time when the prosecutor presents the witnesses for the State and asks the witnesses questions in a direct examination. You have the right to question the State’s witnesses after the prosecutor finishes the direct examination. Your questioning of the State’s witnesses is called a cross-examination. When the prosecutor has presented all of the State’s witnesses and evidence for the State, the prosecutor will say, "The State rests."


After the State rests its case, it is your turn, as the defendant, to present your case-in-chief. At this point you present your witnesses and question them in a direct examination. When you finish your direct examination, the prosecutor may cross-examine your witnesses. Upon presenting all of your witnesses and physical evidence, you have finished your case-in-chief.


At this point, the prosecutor will make a closing argument. You make your closing argument last.


Most likely, your trial will be a bench trial, so the judge alone will decide the case. The judge may make a decision on your case immediately after you finish your closing argument or the judge may take some time to decide.


In both the jury trial and bench trial, the judge will decide upon your sentence and inform you of your right to appeal the decision.


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