If you have been arrested in the Philadelphia area, your case will work its way through Pennsylvania’s legal system, from preliminary arraignment through a trial and sentencing. But is likely your case will not proceed through every level. At any time during this process, your case can be settled.
In Pennsylvania, with the exception of some DUI offenses if you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony you have the right to a jury trial.
What Happens At A Trial
If you plead not guilty, your case will go to trial.
- Your attorney and the prosecutor will choose a jury comprised of 12 of your peers during jury selection. The defense and the prosecutor will be able to strike jurors they don’t want or who they think will not be impartial. Jury selection can take hours or even days. After the jury is selected, the trial can begin.
- At your trial, both the defense and the prosecution will have the opportunity to present their side of the case and call witnesses.
- The trial will begin with both the defense and the prosecution making an opening statement. Each one will present their arguments and tell the jury what they see as the facts of the case.
- Both the defense and the prosecution will call their witnesses. Each side can cross-examine the other’s witnesses.
- You do not have to testify if you do not want to. Your attorney will advise you on whether it will be good or bad for your case.
- Both the defense and the prosecution will present their closing arguments. Each side will try to persuade the jury that their view of the case is the right one.
- The judge will instruct the jury. He or she will read the law and define all of its terms. The judge will tell the jury they should not let other people convince them of opinions they don’t believe, but they should not be stubborn, and they should listen to others’ opinions to decide what is right.
- The jury will then withdraw to deliberate. They will return a guilty or not guilty verdict on each count.
- The jury’s foreman will read the verdict out loud.
- Following the verdict, if you are found guilty the judge will hand down your punishment at sentencing.
- If you are found not guilty, you will be set free.
Although you have the right to a jury trial, if the prosecution agrees, you may choose to have a bench trial where the judge is the one to decide your guilt or innocence instead of a jury.
Questions? Contact us today.
As your case moves through Pennsylvania’s legal system, you need an experienced attorney to defend you. Fienman Defense provides honest communication and gives you the solid guidance you need to avoid severe penalties.