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Denver County Court

What Happens At Trial

A prosecutor will be present at both Court Trials and Jury Trials. The defendant may hire an attorney to represent him or her, or one may be appointed if the defendant cannot afford an attorney. The defendant can also choose to represent themselves.

If the case is scheduled for a Jury Trial, the first step is choosing the Jury. The process for choosing a jury is called “voir dire”. During the process both sides ask questions of the potential jurors to make sure the jurors will be fair and impartial.

During the trial both sides can:

When the case is called, the defendant and their attorney should step to the counsel table. The Judge will ask if either side has an opening statement. The prosecution will go first, then the defendant or their attorney.

The prosecutor will present their case first by calling witnesses. After each witness testifies, the Judge will ask the defendant or the defendant’s attorney if they want to cross-examine the witness. This means the defendant or his/her attorney can ask the witness questions about matters brought up in the witness’s testimony and other related matters concerning the case. It does not mean introducing defense testimony at that time.

After hearing the prosecution witness testimony, the defendant may want to waive the right to remain silent by testifying to their version of the facts in their defense. If the defendant chooses to testify, they may be asked questions (cross-examination) on matters they brought up in their testimony. The defense may also call witnesses on the defendant’s behalf and present evidence such as photographs, charts, or other written material.

After all witnesses have testified, the Judge will ask if either side wishes to make a closing statement. The prosecutor goes first, then the defense. The prosecutor is then given the opportunity to make a final statement.

Defendants representing themselves should come to trial prepared. They should:

  • Understand the charges (violation) against them. Defendants can read the charges in the Denver Revised Municipal Code (D.R.M.C.) or the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.).
  • Prepare a list of questions to ask witnesses and the prosecution witnesses during cross-examination.
  • Bring evidence they want to give to the Judge or Jury.
  • Subpoena witnesses if they want to require someone to come to court to testify and bring documents. Online subpoenas are free of charge; however, serving the subpoenas is at the defendant’s responsibility.

In some cases, the Judge or Jury may find the defendant not guilty, this is called an “acquittal.” The defendant can never be tried again for the same crime. This is called “double jeopardy.” A finding of not guilty is not the same as a finding of innocence. It simply means that the Judge or Jury was not convinced that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The arrest will still show on the defendant’s record, along with the acquittal. If a defendant was wrongfully arrested and charged, and he or she wants the arrest removed from his or her record, the steps necessary are outlined in the Cleaning Up Your Record section of this website.

If the defendant is found guilty, the defendant will be sentenced.

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