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What Is A Trial?

A trial is a hearing for presenting physical and testimonial evidence to judge or jury for a determination of whether an accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, or not guilty of the crimes charged.

A defendant may be found guilty of all, some, or none of the charges. If the defendant is found guilty, he or she can then be sentenced for that crime by a judge, at the time or at a later hearing. If the defendant is found not guilty of a crime, the charge will be dismissed.

A jury trial is where the trial is held before a jury that decides any disputed issues. There is usually a number of 12 jurors in a criminal trial. In a jury trial, the jury is selected by the parties through a process where the judge or parties ask jurors questions in order to determine their biases and opinions.

When the jury is chosen and they are sworn in, the parties gives their opening statements, presenting evidence and giving their closing arguments. The jury then deliberates and when they reach their decision, they return to the courtroom and announces the verdict. Divorces and actions resulting in juvenile court, are not guaranteed jury trials.

A bench trial is a trial that goes before a judge, but without a jury. Before a bench trial, the parties begin with presenting evidence, but in some cases, they make opening statements.

When the plaintiff finishes presenting their evidence, the defendants presents their case. Closing arguments are rarely made. The judge can can make a rule right after both parties present their case, but most of the time, it will take a few hours, or a few weeks to review all the evidence and reach a decision.

A criminal trial is made to resolve accusations brought forth by the government against a person accused of a crime. Most criminal defendants are entitled to a trial before jury.

A civil trial is generally held to settle private disputes between two parties.

Administrative hearings aren't considered trials. The types of disputes handled in these hearings are controlled by the administrative law helped by the civil trial law.

A mistrial happens when a judge cancels a trial prior to return of a verdict. If the court lacks jurisdiction over a case, the judge can order a mistrial. Evidence that was admitted improperly can result in a mistrial. Misconduct that prevents the court process by a party or juror will result in a mistrial.

When there's a mistrial, the court must hold a retrial on the the same matter. However, if the court mistakenly declares a mistrial, or if misconduct by the prosecution forced the defendant into moving for a mistrial, then the U.S. Constitution bars any retrial and the prosecution is terminated.


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