Have you been charged with a crime in California? Are you confused about what will happen and concerned about your future? If so, you are not alone. The Orange County criminal trial system can seem overwhelming, with many complex and confusing roles. Understanding what to expect in an Orange County criminal trial can help you prepare yourself and protect your rights. Below, our Orange County criminal defense lawyer Willliam W. Bruzzo explains more.
If you enter a “not guilty” plea at your arraignment, your case will proceed to a jury trial. Your case will proceed to a jury trial if you are unwilling to accept a plea bargain. During jury selection, your defense attorney and prosecutor will ask jury questions. They can ask the court to dismiss specific jury candidates for cause or use a preemptory challenge.
After the jury has been selected, the prosecution will make their opening statement setting forth the evidence they have against you. Your defense attorney can choose to make an opening statement as well.
After opening statements, the prosecution will begin its case in chief by providing evidence through witness testimony, different tangible objects or supporting documents, relevant photos, videos, and other exhibits. In addition to calling witnesses to give facts based on their personal observations of the case, the prosecutor and defense can introduce expert opinion testimony during the trial. They can also call experts to provide evidence based on their specialized knowledge. Additionally, attorneys can cross-examine the other side’s witnesses to undermine their credibility and reliability.
After the prosecution and defense have submitted all of the evidence, attorneys can engage in their closing arguments. They will summarize the evidence in a way that is favorable to their side. The prosecution gives a closing argument first, and then the defense gives its closing argument. Generally, the prosecution can give a shorter rebuttal.
After closing statements, the judge will provide jury instructions, and the jury will begin deliberating. The jury usually selects a foreperson to guide the jury in deliberations. They can discuss the case until they unanimously reach a guilty or not guilty verdict. The jury must decide whether the prosecutor proved each element of the charged crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden of proof rests with the prosecutor, not the defendant.
Verdict and Sentencing, If Necessary
The jury must unanimously find the defendant “not guilty” to dismiss the charges.
If the jury finds the defendant “guilty” unanimously, the defendant will proceed to sentence.
If even one juror disagrees with the rest, the jury is considered a “hung jury,” and the defendant retains the presumption of innocence.
After a conviction, the defendant will have a sentencing hearing to discuss aggravating and mitigating factors. Ultimately, the judge will decide the exact sentence.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Skilled Attorney
If you’ve been accused of a crime in Orange County, California, it’s crucial that you reach out to an experienced California criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact Bruzzo Law today to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation case evaluation to discuss your case with a skilled attorney and learn more about your rights.