Presenting Your Case at Trial

Your Rights

If you plead Not Guilty, a trial is held on a sworn Complaint filed against you. A Complaint is the document which alleges the act you committed. You can only be tried for what is alleged in the Complaint. You have the following rights:

  • To inspect the Complaint before trial and have it read to you at the trial.
  • To request evidence material to any matter involved in your case.
  • To hear all testimony (evidence) against you.
  • To cross-examine any witness who testifies against you.
  • To testify (tell what happened) on your behalf.
  • Not to testify. Your refusal cannot be held against you in determining your innocence or guilt.
  • To call witnesses on your behalf. You may request that the court issue a subpoena to ensure the witness appears at the trial.
  • To present evidence on your behalf.

Trial Proceedings

  • If you have a jury trial, you may question potential jurors about their qualifications to hear your case. You may remove none or up to three potential jurors for any reason you choose, except a reason based solely upon a person's race, gender, sex, or religion.
  • In criminal trials, the State presents its case first by calling witnesses. After prosecution witnesses have testified, you have the right to cross-examine. You may ask the witnesses questions about their testimony or other facts relevant to the case. Your cross examination of the witness must be in the form of questions. You may not give testimony at this time.
  • After the prosecution has rested its case, you may present your evidence. You have the right to bring or subpoena a witness who knows anything about the offense. The State has the right to cross-examine any witness that you bring or subpoena.
  • You may testify on your own behalf but, as a defendant, you cannot be compelled to testify. Your silence cannot be used against you if you do not testify. If you testify, the State has the right to cross-examine you.
  • After testimony is concluded, both sides may make a closing argument. You may tell the court or jury why you are not guilty of the offense charged. The State has the right to present the first and last arguments. The closing argument can be based only on the testimony admitted during the trial.

Judgment / Verdict

If the judge tries the case, the judge's decision is called a judgment. If a jury tries the case, the jury's decision is called a verdict.

If a judge or jury finds you guilty, a fine will be announced at the trial. Unless you appeal your case, you should be prepared to pay the fine, court costs, and fees.

New Trials

If you are found guilty, you may request a new trial. The motion must be made in writing within ten days after a judgment has been entered against you. The judge may, for good cause, grant a new trial if the judge considers that justice has not been done in the trial of your case. Only one new trial may be granted for each offense.