What happens in a Criminal Trial during the Closing Submissions and Verdict?
If you’re involved in a Criminal case in Court and claimed trial to challenge or contest the charges, the trial will move into the final stage after the Prosecution and Defence have each had their turn to present their own evidence in support of their respective cases.
This is the stage for the Closing Submissions to be presented and the Court to issue its verdict (meaning the Judgment and Decision by the Court). At the end of the trial, you and the Prosecutor will be given the opportunity to make closing submissions. The purpose of this is to let parties summarise the evidence and arguments to persuade the Judge to decide the case in their favour.
You’ll be asked to make your closing submissions first, followed by the Prosecution. If you need time to prepare your closing submissions, you can ask the Judge for some time. If you cannot remember what was said at trial, you can apply for a copy of the Notes-of-Evidence via the Crime Registry (State Courts, Level 1). A Notes of Evidence is a word-for-word transcript of what had been said by the different people in Court.
Important things to take note of include the following:
- You should focus on the relevant issues and explain to the Judge why he should believe you
- You can highlight the weaknesses of the evidence presented by the Prosecution, or explain why you should be found “not guilty”
- You’ll be allowed to talk about all of the evidence given at the trial. This includes any document, photograph or video which has been put into evidence. You can not bring up new evidence at this stage
At the very end of the process, after closing submissions and arguments have already been presented and reviewed, the Judge will make his decision on the case and announce his decision in a judgment. If you’re acquitted (i.e. found not guilty), the trial process comes to an end and your involvement in the case has finished. If you’re convicted (found guilty), the case will proceed to mitigation and sentencing where the Judge will decide how you’ll be punished. If you disagree with the decision and judgment or sentence or both, you can file an appeal within 14 calendar days from the announcement of the sentence.
So, there you have it, some basic information on what happens in a Criminal Trial during the Closing Submissions and Verdict.