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What Happens at a Criminal Jury Trial?

A criminal jury trial is a legal process in which a defendant is tried for a criminal offense before a jury of their peers. In Illinois, criminal jury trials are conducted in accordance with state and federal law and involve a number of legal and procedural steps. In this blog, we'll explore what a criminal jury trial entails in Illinois, including the selection of jurors, opening statements, witness testimony, closing arguments, and the rendering of a verdict.

Jury Selection

The first step in a criminal jury trial is the selection of jurors. Jurors are selected through a process called voir dire, during which the attorneys for both sides question potential jurors to determine if they are suitable to serve on the jury. The goal of voir dire is to select a fair and impartial jury that can weigh the evidence and render a fair verdict.

Opening Statements

After the jury is selected, the trial begins with opening statements from the attorneys. The prosecution goes first, and presents their case against the defendant. The defense then presents their case and explains why the defendant should not be found guilty.

Witness Testimony

After opening statements, the prosecution presents evidence and calls witnesses to testify against the defendant. The defense then has the opportunity to cross-examine the prosecution's witnesses and present their own evidence and witnesses in support of the defendant's case. During the witness testimony phase, both sides may object to evidence or testimony that they believe is irrelevant or improper.

Closing Arguments

After all the evidence and testimony has been presented, the attorneys for both sides make their closing arguments. The prosecution argues why the defendant should be found guilty, while the defense argues why the defendant should be acquitted. This is the final opportunity for the attorneys to make their case to the jury before they begin deliberations.

Jury Deliberations

After closing arguments, the jury is sent to deliberate on a verdict. The jury must weigh the evidence and determine whether the prosecution has proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury must be unanimous in their verdict, meaning that all jurors must agree on whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.


After the jury deliberates, they will render a verdict. If the jury finds the defendant guilty, the judge will set a date for sentencing. If the jury finds the defendant not guilty, the defendant is acquitted and released.


In some cases, either the prosecution or the defense may choose to appeal the verdict or sentencing. This means that they will request a higher court to review the case and potentially overturn the verdict or modify the sentencing.


In conclusion, a criminal jury trial in Illinois is a complex legal process that involves a number of steps, including jury selection, opening statements, witness testimony, closing arguments, jury deliberations, and the rendering of a verdict. If you are facing criminal charges and are considering a jury trial, it's important to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the process and protect your interests. By understanding what a criminal jury trial entails in Illinois and working with the right attorney, you can achieve a more positive outcome and move forward with your life.


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