Every defendant has a right to trial by a jury of his or her peers. Defense attorneys and prosecutors go through painstaking efforts to select jurors prior to trial. Once the jury is selected, the trial commences. Defendants can also elect to waive their right to a jury and allow a judge to decide the case.
The State puts on its case first. The prosecutor will call witnesses to testify and present evidence against the defendant. The defendant has a constitutional right to confront his or her accusers and, as such, the defense attorney will have an opportunity to cross examine each witness. Once the prosecutor is finished calling witnesses and presenting evidence, the State will rest its case. The defendant will then have an opportunity to call witnesses and present evidence in defense of the charges. Similarly, the prosecutor can cross examine the defense witnesses.
After the State and defense are finished presenting witnesses and evidence, the prosecutor and defense attorney will give closing arguments to the jury. This is one of the most important parts of the trial. The State and defense sum up all of the facts, evidence and law and ask the jury to render a verdict in their favor.
The verdict is then revealed. A defendant will be found guilty or not guilty. If acquitted, a defendant has no further obligations. Additionally, the State has no right to appeal acquittals and, of course, defendants may not be charged twice for the same offense. However, defendants who are found guilty must face sentencing, at which time punishment is rendered by the judge who presided over the trial. A convicted defendant also has a right to appeal the verdict.