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On Behalf of | Feb 4, 2023 | Criminal Law

Criminal Jury Trial Procedure in South Dakota

A criminal jury trial is a legal process in which a jury of citizens decides the guilt or innocence of a defendant charged with a crime. In South Dakota, criminal jury trials follow a specific procedure to ensure that the rights of the defendant and the prosecution are protected, and that a fair and impartial verdict is reached.

The following is a step-by-step explanation of the criminal jury trial procedure in South Dakota:

  1. Jury Selection: The first step in a criminal jury trial is the selection of the jury. This process involves potential jurors being questioned by the judge and attorneys from both the prosecution and defense. The is the only time during the trial that the defense attorney gets to go first. The goal is to select a group of 12 impartial citizens who will serve as the jury for the trial. This is one of the most important parts of the trial because of if you do not get 12 fair jurors you cannot have a fair trial.
  2. Opening Statements: After the jury is selected, the trial begins with opening statements from the prosecution and defense. During this time, the attorneys provide an overview of the case and what evidence they expect to present. No arguments are to be made during this part of the case.
  3. Prosecution’s Case: The prosecution then presents its case, which typically includes witnesses, physical evidence, and other forms of evidence. The defendant’s attorney may cross-examine the witnesses and challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution.
  4. Defense’s Case: After the prosecution rests, the defense presents its case. The defense may present witnesses and evidence to support its arguments and undermine the prosecution’s case. The prosecution may cross-examine the defense’s witnesses and challenge their evidence. The defense is not required to put on a case. They may rely on the state’s failure to prove their case by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
  5. Jury Instructions: before closing argument, the parties settle the jury with the judge. Once the instructions are decided the judge reads and provides the jury with instructions on the law and the legal standard they must use to reach a verdict.
  6. Closing arguments: After both the prosecution and defense have presented their cases and the jury instructions have been read to the jury, the attorneys make closing arguments. During this time, the attorneys summarize their arguments, relevant jury instructions and try to persuade the jury to reach a verdict in their favor.
  7. Jury Deliberations: the jury then retires to the jury room to deliberate. During this time, the jurors discuss the evidence and arguments presented and work together to reach a verdict.
  8. Verdict: After the jury reaches a verdict, they return to the courtroom and the verdict is read aloud. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge will sentence the defendant. If the defendant is found not guilty, they will be acquitted and released.

In conclusion, the criminal jury trial procedure in South Dakota is designed to ensure that the rights of the defendant and the prosecution are protected, and that a fair and impartial verdict is reached. The procedure involves several key steps, including jury selection, opening statements, presentation of evidence, jury instructions, arguments, jury deliberations, and the verdict.

Your should contact an experienced attorney to help you in the event that your case is going to go to trial. Criminal defense attorney, Sonny Walter has tried many jury trials on felony and misdemeanor cases during his career.