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The Basics of Trial Rules and Procedures

Posted by Christopher Martens | Mar 21, 2017 | 0 Comments

Rules of the Court

One of the reasons why many defendants need attorneys when facing criminal trials is because there are numerous trial rules and procedures that all involved parties must adhere to. To ensure the fairness and integrity of the judicial system, California courts set forth detailed rules on judicial proceedings. Trial rules and procedures provide guidelines that must be followed during trial proceedings. Because trials are so complex, it is important to understand how these rules and procedures can affect you and your case.

Rules and Procedures of Trial Proceedings

To successfully defend yourself against criminal charges at a trial, you must not only have a solid defense strategy but also must understand and follow the trial rules and procedures. Failing to do so could significantly compromise your defense and cost you your case. Consequently, it is vital you speak with a criminal defense attorney well before heading to trial. Following the rules and procedures isn't necessarily difficult, but you must have a thorough understanding of how to adhere to them.

The trial rules and procedures set forth guidelines on such matters as:

This includes how long a defendant can wait before going to trial and how long each part of the trial process can take.

The use of evidence in a trial is governed by numerous rules and procedures on when and how evidence can be obtained and how it must be presented in court.

  • Formatting standards for any written documents that will be used

Yes, there are even formatting guidelines for pleadings, exhibits, and other documents filed with or provided to the court.

  • Requirements for compliant process service (e.g. serving witnesses with subpoenas)

Serving someone has to be done a certain way. The documents you must provide them, the actual method of service, and what you need to do once you serve someone are covered.

  • The defendant's rights and responsibilities

These pertain to the specific rules the defendant must follow when going to trial and the rights he or she has when it comes to trial.

  • The prosecution's rights and responsibilities

Prosecuting attorneys have rights and responsibilities, too. They must strictly adhere to all the guidelines on trial procedure.

  • Requirements for filing motions (such as a motion to suppress evidence)

Motions must be filed within a certain amount of time, copies must be provided to several parties, and there are timelines on when a motion must be responded to.

  • Guidelines for citing of authorities

Both the prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney can reference certain authoritative sources in pleadings and in oral argument, but it has to be done a certain way.

  • Guidelines for instructions given to the jury

The jurors have guidelines they must follow as well.

These are just a few cursory examples of what the trial rules and procedures cover. While adhering to these rules and procedures is vital, it's important to thoroughly understand them in order to defend your rights. An attorney can help you with this if you need guidance. You don't want to wait until it's too late to file a motion or file important documents using the wrong format. Even if they are small mistakes, it won't help your case. It's very important to respect the judicial system by following the trial rules and procedures if you want to make a good impression. And, chances are, if you are facing criminal charges, you will need to make a good impression in your case.

Speak with a skilled California criminal defense attorney with sufficient trial experience if you have any questions about criminal trials. Facing a trial alone is never a good idea. With so many rules and procedures that must be followed, it is easy to make a mistake if you do not have competent legal counsel on your side. An attorney can explain these rules and procedures and prepare you for trial.

Do you have questions about criminal trials? Visalia area criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens can assist you with fighting your charges and defending your rights. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, Mr. Martens has handled thousands of cases and has taken over 50 to trial. Attorney Christopher Martens has the skills and knowledge needed to defend your rights. Serving the Visalia and Fresno areas, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can provide expert criminal defense counsel. Call our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.

About the Author

Christopher Martens

Bio Visalia and Bakersfield criminal defense attorney who has dedicated his life to helping those who have been accused of crimes or injured due to the negligence of others.


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