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4 Key Figures In A Criminal Trial



If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense, you’ll have to undergo a trial to determine whether you’re guilty or not. Generally, a criminal trial is a legal proceeding whereby the plaintiff and the defendant present evidence to support their claims to a court of law.  

However, it’s essential to know that dealing with a criminal trial can be challenging since there are many critical considerations to remember. Aside from developing a defense strategy, knowing the people involved in a criminal trial is essential to understand how the proceeding works and how you can turn it in your favor. For instance, you might wonder what’s the role of criminal defence counsel and other vital players in the trial.  

Read on to learn the four key figures in a criminal trial.  

1. Judge  

The judge is one of the crucial figures in a criminal trial. They’re the person whose duty is to preside over the trial from the bench, which is located on an elevated platform in the courtroom. They’re also in charge of maintaining order in the court and ensuring the proceeding goes smoothly without any issues.  

Aside from that, the judge in a criminal trial has the following duties and responsibilities: 

  • Ensures that all the parties involved follow the rules and their rights are respected throughout the proceeding; 
  • Receives the evidence presented and determine its legality and veracity; 
  • Hears the witnesses presented during the trial; 
  • Determines the facts and circumstances and decides whether the accused is guilty or not guilty of the offense charged; and
  • Decides the punishment to give to the accused.  


On the other hand, if a jury is present in a criminal case, a judge must provide the jury instructions about the laws applicable to the criminal case and the standards to follow in deciding the case. And they’ll rule on the objections and review the jury’s decision.  

2. Jury  

In some criminal trials, a jury is present. It usually consists of twelve members selected randomly from a more extensive list of citizens.  

During the trial, the jury is expected to do the following: 

  • Hears and analyzes the evidence against the defendant as well as the defendant’s potential defenses; 
  • Weighs the evidence presented to figure out if there’s sufficient ground to convict the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt; and
  • Renders a verdict after gathering, discussing the evidence, and reaching the necessary consensus.  

When making the decision, the jury must base it on the evidence and the law that applies to the criminal case and not on their personal opinions. They should agree on the innocence or guilt of the defendant to have a valid verdict.  

3. Lawyers  

Two lawyers will be present during a criminal trial to provide legal representation. These include: 

  • Criminal Prosecuting Lawyer

They’re the legal professional who represents the government and files the case to court against the accused. The primary role of a criminal prosecuting lawyer is to present evidence and witnesses to prove that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the offense charged. Further, they’ll cross-examine the witnesses presented by the defense.  

  • Defense Lawyer

They’re the ones who’ll represent the accused in a criminal trial. The primary responsibility of a defense lawyer is to ensure that the rights of the accused are respected and protected. 

Also, a defense lawyer will present evidence and witnesses to prove the accused’s innocence. They’ll highlight the weaknesses in the evidence presented by the prosecution and cross-examine their witnesses to show that the accused isn’t guilty of the crime charged.  

Given the complexity of criminal cases, lawyers for both parties must ensure the case is heard and decided fairly and in accordance with justice.  

  • Witnesses  

In criminal cases, the standard proof required to ensure the accused’s conviction is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s the highest standard that the prosecution should satisfy to successfully find the accused guilty of the criminal offense charged against them.  

Because of this, both parties present witnesses to prove that the accused is guilty or not guilty. Essentially, witnesses are considered key players in a criminal trial as well. They’ll sit on the witness stand and face the courtroom during the proceeding. They’re called to provide testimonies about the facts of the case.  

Unless they’re an expert witness in a particular field, they’re prohibited from giving their personal opinions about what happened. Their testimony is only limited to disputed facts which require their opinion in their capacity as an expert. Meanwhile, witnesses can be referred to as defense witnesses, plaintiff witnesses, or government witnesses, depending on whose party’s behalf they’re testifying.  

Final Thoughts  

A full-blown criminal court trial isn’t easy, especially if you’re the accused party. You need to prove your innocence beyond a reasonable doubt to avoid a conviction. Familiarizing yourself with all the people involved in a criminal trial can help you develop a strong defense strategy along with your selected defense attorney. 

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