What Happens In a Criminal Trial


This page outlines what will happen in a criminal trial in the District Court or Supreme Court of New South Wales (NSW) and the order that each event will occur.

A trial by Judge and jury will generally involve the following events and procedures in the following order:

Legal argument.  This is where your lawyer and the crown prosecutor argue as to what evidence the jury should hear at your trial.  The judge will ultimately decide what evidence is admitted into evidence.

  • empanelling of the jury (the process of selecting the jury members);
  • prosecution presenting its case:
    • opening statement by the prosecution;
    • calling of witnesses by the prosecution;
    • evidence in chief (questioning of the witness) by the prosecution;
    • cross-examination (questioning of the witness) by your defence lawyer; and
    • re-examination (re-questioning of the witness) by the prosecution.
  • defendant presenting its case:
    • opening statement by your defence lawyer;
    • calling of witnesses by your defence lawyer;
    • evidence in chief by your defence lawyer;
    • cross-examination by the prosecution; and
    • re-examination by your defence lawyer.
  • final submissions by the prosecution;
  • final submissions by your defence lawyer;
  • summary by the judge of the whole case to the jury;
  • the jury go to the jury room and seek to decide whether you are guilty or not guilty; and
  • the jury foreperson reads out the verdict as to whether you are guilty or not guilty.

WHERE TO NEXT?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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