If you have been charged with a crime and the case is headed to trial in superior court or municipal court, or if you were injured in an accident and the case is being presented to a jury in civil court, you are going to need an experienced trial attorney on your side. In fact, when it comes to preparing for an upcoming trial, the best preparation is hiring an attorney who understands the nuances and complexities of the NJ legal system.
How Attorneys Prepare for Trial
Your attorney is going to need as much time as possible to prepare your case, which is why you need to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. If you have been charged with a crime, or if you have suffered an injury due to another person’s negligence, do not delay in speaking with an attorney. The success of your case could hang in the balance.
When you decide which attorney should represent you, make sure that you hire an attorney who prepares every case as if it is going to trial. Keep in mind, however, that most criminal and civil cases are settled long before reaching the trial stage. This is usually a good thing because it means that you will avoid the costs and stress that come with a trial.
Here are a few of the ways that attorneys prepare for trial:
- Gather evidence: You want an attorney who utilizes private investigators to gather evidence and conduct research in preparation for trial. This is crucial because the judge or jury in your case will likely reach a conclusion based on the evidence presented at trial.
- Negotiate with the other side: Your attorney should speak with the other side, whether it’s the prosecutor in a criminal case or the person who caused your injuries in a civil case, and try to work out a deal that is favorable to you. It is also not uncommon for these kinds of deals to be struck during the trial, especially if one side appears to be “winning” the case in front of the judge or jury.
- Attend pretrial hearings and file motions: There are usually several pretrial hearings that occur before an actual trial in New Jersey. Your attorney will need to be present at these hearings because important motions could be filed, including motions to dismiss your case. Depending on the circumstances, your lawyer may need to be ready to answer motions filed by the other side.
- Subpoena witnesses: Witnesses whose testimony may prove crucial to your case will need to be located and subpoenaed for trial. Sometimes, a private investigator might need to be used to track down hard-to-find witnesses in advance of the trial date.
- Prep for testimony: Anyone who is expected to take the stand in your defense or on your behalf will need to be prepared to do so. There are strict rules about the ways information is elicited at trial, so witnesses should be prepped for testimony.
- Develop a theme: Despite the complicated procedures involved in a trial, at the end of the day it is a judge or jury who will be rendering a final verdict. And judges and jury members are ultimately just people. That’s why your lawyer will probably want to develop a theme for the trial and tell a story that explains your case to the judge or jury.
What to Expect in the Courtroom
The reality of a trial is often far different from the fictional representation of trials in movies and TV shows. In movies and on television, trials tend to be condensed and exhilarating. In real life, a trial can be long and tedious.
Some of the basic components of your trial may include:
- Jury selection
- Jury instructions
- Opening arguments
- Witnesses testifying for the plaintiff (or for the State in a criminal case)
- Summary judgment motions
- Witnesses testifying for the defendant
- Closing arguments
- Preparing the record for appeal
Throughout the trial, attorneys for both sides may have to make objections to certain testimony or evidence. This means that your attorney will need to be knowledgeable and familiar with your case so that they can anticipate exactly what kind of claims will be made by the other side. Moreover, your lawyer will need to have a solid understanding of courtroom procedure so that testimony or evidence that hurts your case is not presented during the trial.
If you were arrested and charged with a criminal offense in NJ, you need a skilled criminal attorney on your side throughout the legal process. The experienced criminal defense lawyers at Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan, LLC can help you fight your charges. Contact us anytime to schedule a free consultation about your case.