General Information

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Anatomy of a Trial

Voir Dire
The judge and both lawyers question potential jurors and "strike" (eliminate) those who do not appear impartial. The final panel is composed of 12 people.

Opening Statements
Both lawyers have an opportunity to tell their version of the facts to the jury. The prosecutor always goes first.

State's Case
Prosecution presents its case with its witnesses.

Direct Examination
Witnesses are questioned by the prosecutor to establish "what happened."

Cross Examination
Witnesses are questioned by the defense lawyer in an attempt to explain, clarify or discredit what they have previously said.

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Victim/Witness Links

Victims' Rights
Victims' Bill of Rights
Victim Resources
Witness Information
Case Information

Criminal Procedure
Anatomy of a Trial

Tips on Testifying
Court Locations 

Useful Links 

 Attorney General
CA Courts Self-Help
State Bar Victim Information

  Defense Case
Defense witnesses and defendant may testify or the defense lawyer may choose not to put any witnesses on the stand. Defense attorney will directly examine these witnesses, and the prosecutor will cross-examine them.

Prosecution witnesses may testify to dispute what the defense witnesses have said. This testimony must be something that has not previously been testified to in the State's case. Witnesses are directly examined by prosecutor and cross-examined by defense attorney.

Closing Arguments
Both lawyers summarize and argue their cases to the jury. The prosector is allowed to close first, then speak again after the defense attorney's closing argument.

Jury Instructions
The judge explains the law to the jury and how it applies to the case.

The jury goes to the jury room to discuss the case and decide a verdict. All 12 must vote either guilty or not guilty. If a unanimous decision cannot be reached, the jury declares a mistrial because of a "hung jury," and the case may be retried before a new jury.