Denver County Court

What Happens at Trial

A prosecutor will be present at a court trial or jury trial.  The judicial officer presiding over a court trial may be either a Judge or a Magistrate, however, the defendant has the right to object to a Magistrate hearing their case and request that their case be heard by a Judge.  Jury trials will only be presided over by a Judge.  The defendant may hire an attorney to represent him or her, or one may be appointed if the defendant is indigent and they are facing the possibility of jail.  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 their attorney can ask the witness questions about matters brought up in the witnesses’ 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-examined) 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 judicial officer or jury.
  • Subpoena witnesses if they want to require someone to come to court to testify and bring documents. Subpoenas are free of charge. Serving the subpoena is at the defendant’s responsibility.

If the defendant is found not guilty, the matter is concluded.  If the defendant is found guilty, the defendant will be sentenced.