Mounting a Defense: What to Expect in a Criminal Court Case

Crime shows can kind of lead people to believe that today's science is so high-tech, and our court systems so well-made, that finding yourself charged with a crime you didn't commit isn't all that likely to happen. Sadly, the creative stories of Hollywood and the realities of life are two very different things. Countless innocent people find themselves in court defending not only their name but also their freedom - even their lives. In order to lay the foundations for defense, let's go over what to expect in a criminal case and what can be done to help ensure a successful outcome.

Criminal Charges and Establishing a Defense:

Obviously, the whole process starts with someone being charged with a crime. For an innocent person being wrongly accused, this can be a very traumatic time. It's important to keep your wits about you and distance yourself from extreme emotions. 

If you know that you're innocent, then remind yourself that what you're experiencing is going to be temporary. Of course, the biggest part of ensuring that the experience is temporary is by finding a great criminal defense attorney, particularly one that specializes in this area of the law. 

When you meet with your attorney you'll go over all of the particulars of your case, so be ready to discuss every little detail, including things you might be embarrassed or scared to share. Even if you feel that certain information may make you look bad, you need to discuss this with your lawyer so that you can create a sound argument explaining this information. If your lawyer isn't aware of certain facts, then they can't do anything to protect you from the ways in which people may misinterpret this information.

Trial Stages:

You may have an opportunity to request a judge or a jury trial, whichever you and your attorney feel may be in your best interest. Your attorney will also play a crucial role in selecting the jury members who will judge your trial (in the event you go with a jury trial), and this helps to ensure that you're presented to people who are as impartial and unbiased as possible. There will also be a stage in which your lawyer can move to have various forms of evidence dismissed, something that can have a major impact in getting you a "not guilty," verdict.

Once the trial commences, you'll go through opening arguments, and then the prosecution will present its case. This can be a difficult process for defendants, as it can feel as if all of the odds are against them and as if their story isn't being heard. It's important to remember, though, that not only will your lawyer be able to cross-examine the witnesses presented by the prosecution, but he or she will also be presenting his or her own case, including testimonies from witnesses and various experts. 

You'll also have the opportunity to seek dismissal of the case once the prosecution has rested its case, so be aware that there are various opportunities and stages throughout the process that allow for presentations of information, the suppression of evidence and information deemed irrelevant, biased, or faulty, as well as a way to end the trial altogether.

Advice to Keep and Mistakes to Avoid:

Defendants often do or say things during the trial period that inevitably make them look bad to the jury, so there are certainly things you'll want to avoid. How you present yourself in court can have a major impact on the outcome of your trial. It's regrettable that our society will focus on superficial things during legal proceedings, but if you're well-groomed and well-dressed, then it's far more likely that the jury will take you seriously and will want to believe you. 

However, don't overdo it. You don't want the jurors to feel as if you're deliberately trying to sell them an image that isn't representative of who you really are. Dress well, but in clothes that  would typically be expected of you.

Keep in mind that your body language is something that jurors are going to be scrutinizing very closely. When witnesses are giving testimonies, or the prosecution is presenting evidence or various arguments, be mindful of the way in which you're physically responding to these situations. 

No matter how uncomfortable you might feel during various proceedings, don't put your head down or cast your eyes down, as this conveys a sense of guilt. Don't take aggressive stances, and be sure to maintain eye contact with the jury. Don't discuss your case with outsiders, and be particularly mindful of your actions and words during the course of the trial.

Overall, maintain a positive attitude, as this will help you not only maintain your own confidence, but convey the confidence of your innocence to the court.


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