Opening Statements

It is opening statements and closing arguments. At the beginning of a trial, lawyers are limited to telling the jury what they believe the evidence will show. Only at the end can they marshal those facts to make an argument the defendant did or did not commit the crime.

Prosecutors go first because they bear the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. Defense counsel are not obligated to make an opening statement or present any evidence, since the defendant is presumed innocent. Defense counsel may choose to make an opening statement at the conclusion of the initial set of prosecution witnesses, known as the prosecution’s case-in-chief.


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