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Trial is the centerpiece of the common law criminal justice system. In many cases it is the first time the court will hear direct testimony from witnesses. At the end of the trial the factfinder (either a judge or a jury) is then charged with making a factual determination of the defedant's guilt. Jury instructions guide the factfinder in that determination, giving them a legal framework for their decision. In some jurisdictions the jury may be both the finder of fact and the finder of law.

At common law the prosecution typically goes first, presenting evidence and witnesses in an effort to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime charged. In a jurisdiction where the prosecution bears this heavy burden, the defendant need not present any evidence at all in order to win the case. However, in practice, the defendant must typically raise some reasonable doubt to prevail.

One of the most important decisions in a common law trial is whether the defendant will testify.

Following are crucial skills necessary for preparation and excution of a defendant's trial strategy.

Trial Tools

See Stages in a Criminal Trial - US

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