Procedure in a Criminal Case

Differences from Civil Cases


With some exceptions, criminal cases are tried under the same rules of procedure and in much the same manner as civil cases. The person indicted or accused, that is, the person against whom the offense has been charged, is generally referred to as the defendant. The case is prosecuted in the name of the state, and the lawyer for the state is called the district attorney.

There are some major differences between civil and criminal cases, such as:
  • In a criminal case, the state proceeds by way of indictment or accusation.
  • In the selection of a jury in most cases, a panel of 30 potential jurors is required.
  • In a criminal case, the state must prove every essential element of the alleged crime beyond a reasonable doubt. A reasonable doubt is a doubt based upon a reason; it is the doubt of a fair-minded, impartial juror who is honestly seeking the truth.
  • In a criminal case, it is the duty of the jury, after hearing all of the evidence, to determine whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.

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