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What is the procedure for a criminal trial in New York?

Many New York residents will most likely never face a criminal trial. For those who do, however, it is important to know what to expect, so they can understand their rights and defense options.

First, there will be the jury selection, which will take place before the actual trial begins. At the beginning of the trial, there will be the swearing in of the jury.

Following that, the judge will provide the jury with some preliminary instructions, so they can better understand their role in the trial process. After that, the prosecution will make an opening statement, followed by the defense's opening statement.

After the jury has heard each side's opening statements, the prosecution will put forth evidence to the jury that is supportive of the indictment. Following that, it is the defendant's turn to put forth evidence on their behalf.

After the initial production of evidence by both sides, the prosecution can rebut the evidence put forth by the defendant, and then the defendant can rebut the evidence put forth by the prosecution. To rebut means to challenge the evidence with further evidence. It is up to the judge as to how often each side can rebut the other side's rebuttal evidence, or present further evidence in support of their argument, if it is in the interest of justice.

After all evidence has been presented and rebutted, the defendant can provide the jury with a closing summation. After that, the prosecution will have their turn to present a closing summation.

At this point, jury will receive a charge by the court, and retire in order to engage in deliberations. Once that is completed, the jury will announce their decision, also known as the verdict, if they are able to come to an agreement.

As this shows, each step of the trial process is vitally important. However, no one should have to go through a criminal trial by him or herself. They may be able to retain a criminal defense attorney in their defense, or one will be provided to them by the state. This ensures the trial process is fair to all involved.

Source: Laws of New York, Criminal Procedure §260.30, accessed Dec. 15, 2014

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