The Criminal Trial

The essence of a criminal trial or defended hearing is the testing of evidence provided by the prosecution or defence. Each party may produce evidence to the court, including evidence provided by witnesses, and the opposing party may test this evidence including by cross examination of witnesses.

After all prosecution and defence evidence is presented and tested closing arguments may be presented by both the prosecution and defence.

In its closing, the prosecution attempts to summarise the evidence and show that it has proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused committed each element of the offence of which they are accused.

In its closing, the defence may argue that the prosecution has not proved the accused is guilty of the offence with which they are charged beyond reasonable doubt.

In defended hearings before the Local Court of New South Wales the magistrate will then decide whether the accused is guilty.

In matters before the District Court of New South Wales or Supreme Court of New South Wales, typically, the judge then instructs the jury in relation to the law as it applies to the evidence with which they have been presented. Ultimately, the jury then decides whether the accused is guilty.


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