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The phases of a criminal trial

Many Maryland residents will, at some point in their lives, find themselves in an unenviable position: being charged with a crime. For some people, it could be a so-called "minor" crime, such as a drunk driving charge or drug possession. However, for others, the charges could be quite serious, such as felony charges of assault, drug dealing or even sexual offenses.

For any criminal defendant, planning a defense strategy is crucial to the outcome of the case. In some cases, the best criminal defense option will be to take the case to a trial in front of a jury. But, before defendants make this choice, it is important to know the phases of a criminal trial in Maryland.

First and foremost, a jury will need to be selected. During this process, the attorneys in the case - both defense attorneys and prosecutors - will attempt to "weed out" those potential jurors who cannot be impartial and hear the case and the evidence with an open mind. Next, once the jury is in place, the presentation of arguments and evidence will begin. The first step is opening statements.

After the separate sides lay out their version of events in opening statements, witness testimony will begin. This is the phase of the trial when evidence is presented to the jury. Once the presentation of evidence has concluded, both sides will be allowed to make their closing arguments to the jury. Then, the jury will be instructed as to the law and, ultimately, be asked to render a verdict in the case.

If you have been charged with a crime, it is imperative that you speak with an attorney to determine the best defensive strategy for your case.

Source: FindLaw, "Criminal Trial Overview," accessed October 30, 2017

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