The Criminal Law Process

Norwalk Criminal Law Attorney

Know Your Rights!

At the Law Offices of Mark M. Kratter, LLC, in Norwalk, our criminal lawyers provide every client charged with a crime with a clear explanation of the client's situation and what is likely to happen should the case go to trial. This information is essential, since the client then has to decide whether to accept the prosecutor's offered plea bargain. Below is information about the course of a criminal case and the rights of the accused in Connecticut. If you have any questions, or if you would like to speak with a criminal law attorney, please contact our office to make arrangements for a free phone consultation.

The law firm of Mark M. Kratter, LLC, in Norwalk, Connecticut, serves criminal defense clients throughout Fairfield County including the communities of Norwalk, Stamford, Greenwich, Westport, Redding, Wilton, Ridgefield, Darien, Weston, Fairfield, Danbury, Stratford, Monroe, Newtown, Bethel, Danbury, New Canaan, Easton and Bridgeport.

You have the right to have a lawyer present when you answer questions.

The first rule if you have been arrested, have been charged with a crime, or are under investigation is: be polite – but wait to answer any questions until you have consulted with your attorney. Your criminal lawyer is objective and has the experience to know what to say and how to say it. Mistakes you make in the early stages of your criminal case can have serious long-lasting consequences.

The many rituals associated with modern trials have developed over centuries. An experienced attorney understands the unwritten rules that may lead to a verdict of not guilty. Below are some elements common to Connecticut criminal courts:

  • Judge or Jury? The defense decides whether it wants the case tried by a judge or a jury (the prosecution can't require a jury trial).
  • Jury Selection: If the trial will be held before a jury, the criminal defense attorney and prosecutor select the jury through a question and answer process called voir dire. In federal courts and many state courts, the judge carries out this process using questions suggested by the attorneys as well as questions that the judge comes up with on his or her own.
  • Addressing Evidence Issues: The defense lawyer and the prosecution request the court in advance of trial to admit or exclude certain evidence. These requests are called motions in limine.
  • Opening Statements: First the prosecutor and then the defense attorney make opening statements to the judge or jury. These statements provide an outline of the case that each side expects to prove. Because neither side wants to look foolish to the jury, the attorneys are careful to only promise what they think they can deliver. In some cases the criminal defense lawyer reserves opening arguments until the beginning of the defense case.
  • Prosecution Case-in-Chief: The prosecution presents its main case through direct examination of prosecution witnesses by the prosecutor.
  • Cross-examination: The defense attorney may cross-examine the prosecution witnesses.
  • Redirect: The prosecution may reexamine its witnesses.
  • Prosecution Rests: The prosecution finishes presenting its case.
  • Motion to Dismiss: The criminal defense lawyer makes a motion to dismiss charges. (Optional)
  • Denial of Motion to Dismiss: Almost always, the judge denies the defense motion to dismiss.
  • Defense Case-in-Chief: The defense counsel presents its main case through direct examination of defense witnesses.
  • Cross Examination: The prosecutor cross-examines the defense witnesses.
  • Redirect: The lawyer for the defense reexamines the defense witnesses.
  • Defense rests: The defense finishes presenting its case.
  • Prosecution Rebuttal: The prosecutor offers evidence to refute the defense case.
  • Settling on Jury Instructions: The prosecutor and defense lawyer get together with the judge and craft a final set of instructions that the judge will give the jury.
  • Prosecution Closing Argument: The prosecution makes its closing argument, summarizing the evidence as the prosecution sees it, and explaining why the jury should render a guilty verdict.
  • Defense Closing Argument: The defense makes its closing argument, summarizing the evidence as the defense attorney sees it, and explaining why the jury should render a not guilty verdict -- or at least a guilty verdict on a lesser charge.
  • Jury Instructions: The judge instructs the jury about what law to apply to the case and how to carry out its duties. (Some judges "preinstruct" juries, reciting instructions before closing argument or even at the outset of trial.)
  • Jury Deliberations: The jury (if it is a jury trial) deliberates and tries to reach a verdict. In Connecticut the jury must be unanimous in its decision.
  • Post-trial motions: If the jury produces a guilty verdict, the lawyer for the defense often makes post-trial motions requesting the judge to override the jury and either grant a new trial or acquit the defendant.
  • Denial of Post-trial Motions: Almost always, the judge denies the defense post-trial motions.
  • Sentencing: Assuming a conviction (a verdict of "guilty"), the judge either sentences the defendant on the spot, or sets sentencing for another day.

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