I am Burnsville criminal defense attorney Howard Bass. For more than 25 years, I have aggressively defended clients throughout Minnesota facing felony and misdemeanor charges. I understand that for most people, there's nothing more overwhelming than the thought of going to trial. I have handled trials throughout the Twin Cities and can provide you a clear understanding of what you can expect.
Defining the Criminal Trial Process in Minnesota
The trial process begins with the jury selection. During the jury selection, the judge and attorneys will question potential jurors to determine whether they could remain fair and unbiased throughout the upcoming trial. Potential jurors who do not meet this standard will be dismissed by the judge. Both the prosecutor and the defense lawyer have the ability to dismiss a certain number of jurors as well.
After a jury has been selected, the prosecutor will make his or her opening statement. Then, the defense attorney will have the opportunity to do the same, if he or she chooses. In some situations, the defense attorney may reserve the right to make an opening statement until later, or simply waive the opening statement entirely.
Next, the prosecution will call witnesses to take the stand. The prosecution will ask questions to the witness in a process known as "direct examination." The defense attorney will then have the opportunity to cross-examine the witness. When both the prosecutor and the defense attorney have finished questioning the witness, the witness will be allowed to step down.
After the prosecution has finished presenting its evidence, it rests. The defense attorney will then call witnesses to testify on behalf of his or her client. When the defense has finished presenting evidence, it rests.
Both the prosecution and the defense then have the opportunity to present additional witnesses to rebut the other side's case. Once this step is completed, both sides make their closing arguments and the decision is turned over to the jury.
It is important to note that the defendant has no obligation to testify at the trial. It is also important to remember that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty — if the prosecution cannot prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury has a responsibility to find the defendant not guilty.
Contact a Skilled Defense Attorney to Get Real Answers
If you are wondering what happens at trial, contact my defense firm today for a free initial consultation in Burnsville. I want to make sure you have a clear understanding of what you can expect, so you are not left with any surprises.