Decision by Judge or Jury-

  • Defence generally decides whether a case will be tried to a judge or a jury.
  • In some regions both prosecution/ defence have right to demand a jury trial.

Jury selection-

  • If trial is held before a jury: defence/ prosecution select the jury through a question and answer process: “voir dire.”
  • A “trial within a trial.” Hearing to determine the competency of a witness or juror.
  • In federal courts and many state courts, the judge carries out this process using questions suggested by the attorneys as well as questions that the judge comes up with on his or her own.

Evidence issues-

  • Defence/ prosecution request the court, in advance of trial, to admit or exclude certain evidence. Requests= “in limine.”

Opening statements-

  • Prosecution/ Defence make opening statements to the judge or jury.
  • These statements provide an outline of the case that each side expects to prove.
  • Attorneys are careful to promise only what they think they can deliver. Sometimes Defence Attorney reserves opening argument until the beginning of the Defence case.

Prosecution case-in-chief/ Cross-examination-

  • Prosecution presents main case through direct examination of prosecution witnesses by prosecutor; Defence may cross-examine the prosecution witnesses.

Redirect /Prosecution rests-

  • Prosecution may re-examine its witnesses then prosecution finishes presenting its case.

Motion to dismiss (optional)/ Denial of motion to dismiss

  • Defence may move to dismiss the charges if it thinks that the prosecution has failed to produce enough evidence (even if the jury believes it) to support a guilty verdict.
  • Judge denies the Defence motion to dismiss. (Almost always)

Defence case-in-chief/ Cross-examination-

  • Defence presents its main case through direct examination of defence witnesses.
  • Prosecutor cross-examines the Defence witnesses.

Redirect/ Defence rests-

  • Defence re-examines the Defence witnesses/ Defence finishes presenting its case.

Prosecution rebuttal-

  • The prosecutor offers evidence to refute the defence case.

Settling on jury instructions-

  • The Prosecution/ Defence get together with the judge and craft a final set of instructions that the judge will give the jury

Prosecution closing argument-

  • Prosecution makes its closing argument, summarizing the evidence as the prosecution sees it
  • Explains why the jury should render a guilty verdict

Defence closing argument-

  • Defence makes its closing argument, summarizing the evidence as the defence sees it
  • Explains why the jury should render a not guilty verdict (or at least guilty verdict on a lesser charge)

Prosecution rebuttal-

  • The prosecution has the last word, if it chooses to do so, and again argues that the jury has credible evidence that supports a finding of guilty.

Jury instructions-

  • Judge instructs the jury about what law to apply to the case/ how to carry out its duties.
  • (Some judges “pre-instruct” juries; reciting instructions before closing argument or even at the outset of trial.)

Jury deliberations-

  • Jury deliberates and tries to reach a verdict.
  • Require unanimous agreement, cannot award damages like in USA.

Post-trial motions/ Denial of post-trial motions-

  • If jury produces a guilty verdict, Defence often makes post-trial motions requesting the judge to override the jury and either grant a new trial or acquit the defendant
  • Almost always, the judge denies Defence post-trial motions.


  • Assuming a conviction (a verdict of “guilty”), judge either sentences the defendant on the spot or sets sentencing for another day.
Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "Courtroom Procedure," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019,

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11 years ago

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