Timeline of a Florida Murder Trial
Anyone facing homicide charges in Florida probably has some ambivalent feelings about the upcoming trial date. On the one hand, you want it to arrive as quickly as possible, since most defendants in your position are probably incarcerated in the meantime. At the same time, you certainly have grave concerns about the trial process that lead you to hope the day never comes.
Unless you are able to work out a plea bargain or get the charges dismissed, your trial date will arrive before you know it. As such, it is important to understand what will be going on in the courtroom as your Fort Lauderdale homicide defense lawyer works diligently to obtain the best possible outcome. The timeline of criminal trial proceedings should help you grasp the basics.
These “finders of fact” will be deciding your case, so it is good to know that your defense attorney does have some control over picking the jury. Each lawyer and the judge will have the opportunity to ask potential jurors questions to assess whether they are suitable to hear the case. Those that are unfit may be excused by the court or through a peremptory challenge by either attorney. A jury of 12 is required for murder cases that could result in the death penalty.
The prosecution will have the chance to make legal arguments about the facts and legal issues that will come up at a homicide trial, and your criminal defense lawyer will follow with statements in your favor.
The prosecution bears the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, so this side presents witnesses and evidence first. Through your defense attorney, you have the right to cross-examine all witnesses. It is during the prosecution’s case-in-chief that your lawyer will aim to expose weaknesses in the evidence, preventing the prosecutor from proving the key elements of a homicide case.
At the close of the prosecutor’s case, it is your turn to put witnesses on the stand and introduce evidence. Just as when the situation was reversed, the prosecuting attorney will have an opportunity to cross-examine.
Jury Deliberation and Decision
After closing arguments, where both sides essentially re-cap the important points of what transpired during the trial, jurors will leave the courtroom to deliberate. When they reach a decision, the verdict is read in court by the judge. If the prosecution fails to meet its burden, you are acquitted and your case is over. If you are found guilty, the sentencing hearing will be held at a later date.
Trust a South Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Every Step of the Way
These are the main stages of a Florida homicide trial, but it is important to remember that the proceedings are different in every case. You will need skilled legal counsel throughout the process, and your rights are best protected when you retain a lawyer as early on as possible. For more information on our criminal defense services, please contact attorney Kevin J. Kulik in Fort Lauderdale, FL. We can set up a consultation to review the charges and get started on a trial strategy.