What Are the Different Stages of Criminal Trials?

Different Stages of Criminal Trials

Criminal Defense Attorney in Columbus, OH On TV shows, criminal trials are often depicted as speedy affairs that begin shortly after a suspect is arrested. In reality, it may take months for your case to go to trial. During that time, your criminal defense attorney serving Columbus is busy interviewing witnesses, analyzing the evidence, building your criminal defense, and filing motions. Your criminal defense attorney will also prepare you for the trial by helping you understand what to expect.


The first time your defense lawyer is likely to represent you at a court appearance is at your arraignment. During your arraignment, you will formally hear the charges against you. The judge may ask the prosecutor to provide probable cause for your arrest. Additionally, you’ll be asked to enter a plea of “guilty” or “not guilty.” The arraignment also provides an opportunity for your criminal defense attorney to request bail on your behalf, if it hasn’t already been granted.

Plea Agreement

Some cases are resolved with a plea agreement. This occurs when you agree to plead guilty, usually in exchange for a lenient sentence. Your criminal defense attorney can provide guidance on the merits of your case to help you decide whether to accept a plea deal.


If you do not accept a plea deal, the judge and the attorneys will select the members of the jury. After jury selection, your criminal defense attorney and the prosecutor will each make an opening statement to the jurors . Then, the prosecutor calls witnesses and questions them under oath. Throughout the examination of the witnesses, the prosecutor may present evidence. Your defense lawyer may have the opportunity to question the witnesses after the prosecutor does so. This is known as cross-examination. When the prosecutor is finished with all of his or her witnesses, your defense lawyer will repeat the process with witnesses whose testimony may defend you from the accusations.


When all of the witnesses have been examined and both parties have made their closing arguments, the judge issues instructions to the jury. The jurors deliberate in secret to reach a verdict of “guilty” or “not guilty.” Alternatively, the jurors may be unable to agree on a verdict.