What to Expect at Trial
May 10, 2022
A little over 1% of criminal defendants actually stand trial in Pennsylvania, but when this does happen, you need a criminal defense attorney who has the knowledge and experience to fully represent you. Your attorney can work to minimize your penalties, negotiate a plea bargain, or in some cases, have you acquitted. By educating yourself ahead of time about what to expect from the criminal trial process, you’ll be in a better position to collaborate with your lawyer and increase your chances of a favorable verdict.
At Marc V. Taiani, Esquire and Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C., I’ll keep you informed every step of the way and will explain the process so you can make educated decisions about your future. I work in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but can serve those in Shaler Township, Ross Township, Fox Chapel, O’Hara Township, Penn Hills, Oakmont Borough, Indiana Township, and Aspinwall. Call me today to get started.
Understanding the Criminal Trial Process
A trial is usually the last step in a long process that begins with an arrest. The earlier you can retain an attorney, the better your chances are of a favorable outcome. Your attorney will act as your advocate and make sure you understand your choices and the possible penalties associated with them.
After your arrest, you will move forward with a preliminary arraignment and hearing, followed by a formal arraignment, discovery, and a pre-trial conference. If you choose trial by jury, the selection process will then begin and the trial should start shortly afterward.
Steps to Take Before Your Trial
The basic pre-trial steps consist of two arraignments, a hearing, discovery, and a pre-trial conference. In your initial arraignment, you’ll get a copy of your criminal complaint, be advised of your right to counsel, and have your bail set (if you’ve been incarcerated).
In your preliminary hearing, the prosecution will present their case before a judge to establish probable cause to ensure the commonwealth has adequate grounds to bring forth charges.
In your next arraignment, you’ll be informed of the charges against you so you can fully understand your rights and the penalties associated with your charges, although if you’re working with an attorney, you may not have to attend this.
Then, the discovery process can begin where both the prosecution and defense must submit their evidence to the other side. This ensures there are no surprises in the courtroom and gives each side enough time to thoroughly examine all available evidence.
Lastly, at your pre-trial conference, you can enter a plea agreement if you wish or else the judge will authorize jury selection to begin.
What to Expect at Your Trial
All criminal trials follow the same basic steps, and each side begins by presenting its opening statements to the jury. Then, the prosecution will have a chance to present their evidence and call forth any witnesses, followed by the defense. Each side has the opportunity to cross-examine (question) the other side's witnesses. After both sides have fully presented their evidence, they’ll make a closing statement after which the jury will be instructed by the judge on what they need to decide. The jury will deliberate, then return, and their verdict will be read.
Steps to Take Following Your Trial
Your post-trial steps will depend on the verdict and how you wish to proceed. If you accept the verdict as read and are found to be guilty, the judge will sentence you. If you disagree with the verdict, you can appeal to a higher court. Note that the prosecution and the defense both have the right to appeal.
Legal Advocacy You Can Trust
If you’re in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area and have recently been arrested on criminal charges, you need to speak to an attorney immediately. Even if your case doesn’t go to trial, an attorney can still be an indispensable resource as you move through the criminal justice system. Call Marc V. Taiani, Esquire and Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C. today to start discussing your options.