Michigan CSC Case: The Trial
A trial will only take place if the defendant has pled not guilty to the sex offense. Plea-bargaining may take place before trial, and that is a chance to avoid trial in exchange for a more favorable sentence. At the trial, the prosecuting attorney must present evidence to prove the defendant’s guilt – and his burden is heavy: the prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Reasonable doubt is defined as a fair, honest doubt based on the evidence produced at trial. Additionally, it may include what evidence was not produced at trial. Reasonable doubt must be based on reason and common sense. It cannot be based on speculation or imaginary scenarios.
The Jury in a CSC Trial
In Michigan, you have the right to a jury trial. Residents of your local county are randomly selected to appear in court for jury duty. The prosecutor and defense attorney are allowed to question the jurors about their background and beliefs. For a felony case, you will have twelve members on the jury. For a misdemeanor case, you will have six.
The Beginning of a CSC Trial
The trial begins with the Judge administering the oath to the jury. The Judge will also give the jurors basic instructions about the trial process. The prosecutor gives his opening statement first, which is an outline of the People’s evidence and case. The defense attorney then has an opportunity to give an opening statement at that time, or he may wait until later in the trial. The prosecutor gets to present evidence first, by calling witnesses to the stand and by introducing exhibits. The defense attorney is allowed to cross-examine all of the prosecution’s witnesses.
Calling Witnesses to a CSC Trial
After the People are done presenting evidence and calling witnesses, the defense may call witnesses and introduce exhibits. But, there is no requirement that the defense do this, as the defendant is presumed innocent. Likewise, the defendant has no obligation to testify on his own behalf. The defendant is able to use the court’s subpoena power to ensure that defense witnesses come to court to testify.
After the defense rests his case, the prosecutor may present “rebuttal” witnesses to challenge evidence or witnesses presented by the defense. Occasionally, the trial judge will allow the defense attorney to “rebut” the prosecution’s rebuttal witnesses’ testimony.
Closing Arguments in the CSC Trial
After all of the presentation of evidence by both the People and the defense, closing arguments begin. Closing arguments are a summary of the evidence, and each lawyer has a chance to argue why the evidence does or does not show why the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor presents his closing argument first, and then the defense attorney has a chance to present his argument to the jury. The prosecutor may have the opportunity to present a “rebuttal argument,” which is his response to the defense attorney’s argument. Finally, the judge will give the jury detailed instructions about the crimes charged against the defendant, and the judge will explain how the jury deliberation process works. Both the prosecutor and the defense attorney have a chance to ask the judge for specific instructions. The defense attorney may ask for instructions about the reliability of eye-witness testimony, or instructions that give the legal definitions for certain defenses.
Reaching a Verdict in a CSC Trial
After the jury deliberates, the jury will return a verdict of guilty or not guilty. A criminal case jury verdict must be unanimous. If the defendant is found guilty, the court’s probation officer will prepare a presentence investigation report, which recommends a sentence to the judge. The judge will sentence the defendant, and most sentences are within the judge’s discretion. Depending on the specific facts of the case and the evidence presented or excluded from trial, an appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals may be appropriate. If you have questions about any stage of a sex crimes case involving you or a loved one, call our office at 1-800-883-2138 or use the Contact Us form for a free consultation. We are available 24/7 to take your call.