Case Presentation Phase of a Court Trial
The presentation phase of a criminal case trial starts with the opening statement of the side of the prosecution. In the opening statement, the prosecution is required to inform the jury (if it is a jury trial) what their side intends to prove. This usually consists of a statement or description of the crime which the defendant had supposedly committed and how he or she perpetuated the crime.
The opening statement, though, is optional as far as the defense is concerned. It is not a requirement since the defense does not have to prove anything. The task of proving guilt beyond reasonable doubt falls on the prosecution, otherwise, the defendant will be pronounced not guilty. However, defense could make an opening statement if they so desire as part of their strategy for the trial. If they decide to do so, then the attorney representing the defendant makes his or her opening statement after the prosecution has finished with their opening statement (Cowling, n.d.).
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After the prosecution is through with the presentation of their case, the defense again is presented with an option of putting up a defense or not. In some cases, the side of the accused decides not to present a defense because they feel that guilt has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt after they have effectively “discredited” the case presented by the prosecution. However, when the defense decides to build their case by presenting their own evidence, the state, or the side of the prosecution, has the option to present additional evidence for the purpose of rebutting the case put up by the defense. This is done because the state is required to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt and the case put up by the defense might just prevent it. If this option is taken by the prosecution, the defense is likewise allowed to rebut what the prosecutor raised in its rebuttal (Cowling, n.d.).
The two sides then rest their cases after they have presented their evidence. The closing statements or summations then follow to conclude the presentation phase of the trial. Here, the state presents its closing statement or closing arguments first. The defense then takes its turn, to be followed by the prosecutor’s “final and brief summation” (Cowling, n.d.).
Cowling, A. (n.d.). Basic Criminal Procedure From Arrest Through Trial. Retrieved
November 25, 2007 from http://www.allencowling.com/false04B.htm
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