Trials are held before a judge (bench trial) or judge and jury (jury trial). The deputy prosecutor and defense attorney present evidence and question witnesses. The judge or jury finds the defendant guilty or not guilty on the original charges or lesser charges. A jury's verdict must be unanimous. If the jury finds the defendant not guilty, the charges are dismissed. If the verdict is guilty, the judge will set a sentencing date.
*Witnesses for both the prosecution and defense are subpoenaed to appear
and testify at trial. Witnesses do not need to be present for jury
selection or opening statements. All witnesses take an oath to tell the
truth in court. Usually, witnesses at trial are required to remain
outside the courtroom until they are called in to testify. Normally,
once a witness has testified and is excused by the judge, the witness is
free to leave or to remain in the courtroom. Both the prosecutor and
defense counsel are allowed to question all witnesses who testify.
The jury may find the defendant guilty, not guilty, or may be unable to
agree. A jury that cannot reach a unanimous verdict is called a ‘hung
jury.’ When there is a ‘hung jury,’ the case may be re-tried. A not
guilty verdict means that the jury concluded that the case was not
proven beyond a reasonable doubt; it does not always mean that a
defendant is innocent.
Motion for a New Trial
Defendants found guilty at trial may file a motion for a new trial. The
legal grounds for granting this motion may be: juror misconduct,
prosecutorial misconduct, denial of a fair trial or other substantial
legal error. If the court does grant the defendant's motion, another
trial will be scheduled.