CoronaCOVID SAFETY

We have continued the COVID safety measures put in place during the Pandemic.
Everyone entering the building must:

  • Wear a mask
  • Have your temperature taken
  • Register for tracking purposes

Plexiglass shields have been installed in each courtroom and in the Clerk’s Office.
Air filters are provided in select areas around the building.

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What Happens During Trial

Unlike civil cases where people can bring each other to court to resolve their disputes, criminal cases are brought to the court by the state.

The state is represented in criminal trials by a prosecutor, or a team of prosecutors. Prosecutors are lawyers whose job it is to prove that someone is guilty of committing a crime.

The accused’s lawyer is often called the defense. The defense’s job is to represent the accused and present his or her side of the story.

In a criminal case every defendant is presumed to be innocent until the prosecutor proves that he or she is guilty. This means the prosecutor has the burden of proof. The prosecutor must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor cannot prove the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the accused will be found not guilty.

No matter the charge, most trials proceed the same way:

  1. Once the trial begins, both the prosecution and defense will give opening statements in court. The statements provide an outline of what the case is about and what each side is trying to prove.
  2. Since the burden of proof is on the state, the prosecution presents their case and all of their evidence first.
  3. After the prosecution has presented their case, the defense can question the prosecution’s witnesses.
  4. Then the defense may present its case and all of its evidence.
  5. After the defense has presented, the prosecution may ask questions of the defense’s witnesses.
  6. The prosecution and defense will each have a chance to present closing statements to the court.
  7. If the trial is being decided by a judge, the judge will make a decision, or verdict. If the trial is being decided by a jury, the jury will leave the courtroom to deliberate before returning and announcing their decision to the judge.
  8. If the judge or jury has found the accused guilty, the judge will often sentence the accused immediately. If the judge or jury has found the accused not guilty, the accused is free to go.