Pre-Trial vs. Trial vs. Verdict – The Complete Process

Pre-Trial vs. Trial vs. Verdict – The Complete Process

Individuals charged with a crime are often uncertain of the process they are facing. They may know the basic procedure of a trial but are not certain about all the steps that come before or after. The law surrounding criminal trials is a complicated one. At every step, individuals need to be aware of what is happening and how their actions may influence the eventual development of their case.

Arrest and Arraignment

The definition of pre-trial procedure is events that happen before the trial but after the arrest or the arraignment. In the arraignment process California, a police officer has probable cause to suspect that a crime has been committed. They either arrest an individual or file a warrant and allow an individual to turn themselves in. Once that individual is booked, they face an initial interaction with the arraignment process California where a judge learns what they are being charged with and determines whether or not they should be held or granted bail. Then, a date is set for their trial and pre-trial procedure begins. They may either have to post bail or be released on their own recognizance.

Pre-trial Preparation and Importance

The pre-trial procedure is the series of events after the arraignment that lead up to the decisive trial. It is the time in which the vast majority of criminal cases are decided. An individual undergoes pre-trial preparation and importance of this preparation is critical. He or she meets with their lawyers and gathers evidence to prepare their cases. Lawyers participate in the process of discovery as the very definition of pre-trial. They issue subpoenas and hand over documents. They also begin discussions with the prosecutor about the case and its circumstances. These discussions often occur as a result of the discovery phase. In many cases, one side or the other will realize that their case is either stronger or not as strong as they had once believed.

Prosecutors frequently drop cases at this stage due to this discovery. Different interpretations of evidence and cases also help to inform plea bargains. Plea bargains are when both sides agree to a particular plea from a defendant. Defendants agree to plead guilty or no contest to certain charges in exchange for a lesser sentence. Prosecutors often offer these deals because they do not want to risk losing a case or spending considerable sums of money on a case they may lose. Plea bargain negotiations can sometimes continue up to the day of the trial.

Trial Phase

The trial phase is when both defense and prosecutors go through the main steps of a jury trial. They are what the entire pre-trial process leads up to. The criminal trial procedures in California are a pressure-packed affair where every word and decision has meaning. Once the juries are picked, instructed, and seated, there are opening statements where both sides present their interpretations of the case to the jury. Criminal trial procedures California state that the prosecution then begins by calling witnesses and discussing evidence. The next steps of criminal trial are that defense attorneys have the chance to cross-examine witnesses after their testimonies. Both sides often present motions and objections throughout the stages of a criminal trial. Once the prosecution presents their case, the defense will present their own. Following stages of a criminal trial may include rebuttals.

Verdict and Appeal

The jury verdict is one of the last main steps of a jury trial. A jury or judge decides on whether or not an individual is guilty. They decide on the sentence a defendant has to face either during the trial or during a separate phase. Sentencing is the one of the last steps of criminal trial.

But the jury verdict appeal process occurs after the trial. The individual then has the chance to appeal the jury verdict. A verdict appeal process would be based on the conduct of the case and not directly on the guilt or innocence of the individual being charged. Individuals preparing in order to appeal a guilty verdict would have to look at how evidence was treated and how motions were handled during the trial. Appeals other than an individual who plans to appeal a guilty verdict are rare because of the principle of double jeopardy.


A trial can be stressful for everyone involved. Lawyers have months of hard work either vindicated or dashed in a matter of hours or days. Trials may mean the difference between freedom and prison for many defendants. Knowing more about the process can help defendants understand the possible outcomes of their case and better realize what they need to do to prepare for their defense.

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