The trial will usually be heard by a judge and a jury. Sometimes an accused will ask to have only a judge.

The prosecution has to prove the case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt.

Witnesses and giving evidence

The prosecutor will arrange for witnesses to come to court and will ask them questions to help them explain what they know about the matter to the court. This is called 'giving evidence in chief'.

The accused’s lawyer can then also ask questions. This is called 'cross-examination'.

The accused can also ask people to come to court and give evidence.

Witnesses are required to come to court to tell the judge and jury what they know about the matter, even if they have already given a statement to the police.

Special arrangements can be made for some witnesses to make this process a bit easier.

Guilty or not guilty

Once the jury has heard the evidence, they have to decide whether the accused is guilty or not guilty of the charge.

The judge gives them some guidance (called directions) about how to make that decision. If there is no jury, the judge will decide whether the accused is guilty or not guilty.

If the jury (or the judge) decides that the accused is not guilty, the accused is free to go. This is called an acquittal. The prosecution is not allowed to appeal a jury verdict of not guilty.

If the accused is found guilty, the matter will usually be adjourned to another day for the judge to listen to sentencing submissions.

The jury do not participate in the sentencing process.