The prosecution calls each of its witnesses in turn, and the prosecutor takes each witness through their evidence. This is called evidence-in-chief.

After each witness gives evidence-in-chief, the defence barrister may ask the witness questions to test their evidence. This is called cross-examination.

The prosecution can ask further questions of the witness to clarify matters arising in cross-examination. This is called re-examination.

After the prosecution has called all its witnesses, the defence can call its witnesses. Questioning of the defence witnesses occurs as for prosecution witnesses. After all witnesses have given their evidence, the prosecutor and the defence barrister give their closing addresses to the jury.  

The judge then summarises their evidence and the arguments and informs the jury of the law that they need to apply to that evidence in order to reach a verdict.

The Verdict

The jury's role is to decide whether the accused is guilty or not guilty of the offence on the evidence presented to them. The jury must determine whether the prosecution has proven that the accused committed the crime to the accepted standard of proof – beyond reasonable doubt.

The jury will go to another room to consider their verdict. When they have all reached the same decision, the jury will come into the courtroom and the jury foreperson will tell the court whether they find the accused person guilty or not guilty.

Sometimes the jury cannot agree on a verdict and they will be sent home and the trial may be heard again before a new jury at a later date.

If the jury finds the accused not guilty of the crime then they are free to go. This is called an acquittal. The prosecution cannot appeal to a higher court against an acquittal.

If the jury finds the accused guilty, the judge will then decide what the sentence will be. The sentence will be handed down by the judge after a plea hearing.

More about the Court Process