How to prepare for a criminal trial


How to prepare for a criminal trial

The Procedure of Criminal Trial is governed by the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. There are three basic stages to it:

  1. Investigation: where evidences are to be collected.
  2. Inquiry: A judicial proceeding where judge ensures for himself before going on trial, that there are reasonable grounds to believe the person to be guilty.
  3. Trial: The term ‘Trial’ has not been defined in the Code but it means a judicial proceeding where guilt of a person is adjudged leading to a acquittal or a conviction based on evidences.

A Criminal Trial starts with framing of charges, if a person is not discharged – trial begins, by framing a charge (specific accusation).

After framing of charges the judge proceeds to take the ‘plea of guilt’ which is an opportunity to the accused to acknowledge that he pleads guilty and does not wish to contest the case.

After plea of guilt is taken, if accused pleads ‘not guilty’ or court does not accept his plea of guilt, trial moves on – prosecutor then explains to the court the basic outline of the case and what evidence he proposes to lead in order to prove the same. He asks the court to summon witnesses so that court can record their evidence.

As the prosecution has to start leading evidence to bring the offence to the accused – it is said ‘The Burden of Proof lies on the prosecution’. When witnesses for the prosecution are called they are first examined by the prosecutor – then cross examined by the defence advocate, and with the leave of the court prosecutor can again examine to clarify the loopholes exposes during such cross examination.

After the prosecution has led its evidence – court asks the accused to enter the witness box in order to explain circumstances that appeared against him – he is given an opportunity to give personal explanations. Any answer given by accused is not to be used as evidence against him but the court may take into consideration to adjudge overall trustworthiness of the case.

If the court feels that prosecution has not successfully the guilt – it may acquit – else if it feels that they have sufficiently discharged their burden – then it asks defence if it seeks to lead evidence, and the same cycle again.

Now after evidence from both sides is recorded. Parties then make arguments on the same, and in the end court pronounces the judgment.
In case of Acquittal – the accused is set at liberty (if in custody).

In case of conviction – the Court has to fix another hearing to decide on the quantum of sentence.

Here the prosecution as well as the defence can lead evidences that would have been fatal earlier, in order to aggravate or mitigate the punishment. Previous criminal background/ Bad Character/ Reprehensible Motive/ Cruel/ Diabolical Conduct – may aggravate the sentence on the other hand – First Time offender/ No premeditation/ Capable of Reform are some factors which move the court to give a lenient sentence.

It is important to note that the information provided is for knowledge purposes only. Make sure you find an expert criminal lawyer to initiate such proceedings in the right manner. 

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