Criminal Trial Preparation Checklist

by AWR | Dec 13, 2018 2:43:00 PM | Litigation Services, Trial Presentation


Attorneys generally must acknowledge that a trial is the ultimate form of performance. Everything needs to be considered, from posture and presentation to the facts and method of delivery. For prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys, however, there is often far less time to prepare. This is due to the Sixth Amendment guaranteeing criminal defendants a speedy trial. For this reason, a criminal trial preparation checklist is a must-have for all trial lawyers who handle criminal matters.

At A. William Roberts, Jr. & Associates, our experienced team can help you prepare great exhibits for your trial presentation as well as a straightforward checklist to keep you on track. Call us today for expert deposition and litigation support.

What Goes into a Trial Preparation Checklist?

There are many things that could potentially be covered in a more complex criminal case. Here are some of the most important items you’ll want to consider including in your checklist:

  • Scheduling and Deadlines. Include any issues regarding availability for scheduling the trial and deadlines for producing witnesses and evidence.
  • Witness List. Include a succinct witness list with basic information about each witness that you intend to call and each witness the opposing side has tendered as someone they intend to call.
  • Evidence/Exhibit List. Include a very brief statement of the exhibits and evidence you intend to introduce during your case in chief. You may wish to include a list of the evidence that you anticipate the other side will use as well.
  • Jury Questions. You should carefully craft questions for voir dire, as well as a few notes about probable objections you could encounter or wish to raise for your opponent.
  • Jury Instruction. A simple statement of jury instructions should also be included.
  • Will the jury be sequestered or not? Make sure you have basic admonitions and a few notes about concerns or issues that may involve this.
  • List of Charges. Both sides need to have a section of their checklist just for reciting the charges, the applicable statute, and preferably a list of the specific conditions for such charges.
  • Stipulations and Admissions. Are there any issues that both parties can agree to? Perhaps it is agreed upon that a particular set of facts occurred. This needs to be set forth somewhere in the checklist for easy reference.
  • Affirmative Defenses. Does the defendant have an alibi? Are there affirmative defenses to deal with? If so, list them, and prepare a quick note with case law and statutes in support or opposition.
  • Potential Sentencing Issues. Whether you are on the prosecution or defense side, you should be prepared to deal with arguments over sentencing, should there be a conviction on any of the charges.
  • Matters for Appeal. Especially for criminal defense attorneys, it is imperative that any issues be preserved for appeal. Therefore, if there are contested matters of law that could easily give way to an appeal later, make sure these are detailed somewhere so you don’t forget to preserve those matters during the trial.

Get Expert Litigation Support

If you need experienced litigation support, such as help building a criminal trial preparation checklist, creating quality trial exhibits, or court reporting services, contact AWR today.


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