Stages of a trial

The hearing of a criminal case begins as the prosecutor presents the claims against the defendant and states the reasons for them. The injured party may have requested the prosecutor to present his or her claims in the case as well. If the injured party presents the claims for damages himself or herself, he or she is given the floor after the prosecutor.

Thereafter, the defendant is heard. The defendant may either admit or deny the offence, of which the prosecutor accuses him or her. The defendant also states whether he or she agrees to pay the damages claimed by the injured party.

Next, the prosecutor and the injured party present more detailed reasons for their statements. The defendant states his or her own position as to the matters presented in the court.

Thereafter, the witnesses are heard. The injured party and the defendant may also be heard for the purpose of giving evidence. The statements of the witnesses are recorded. The court may also admit other evidence, for example written evidence.

Finally, the parties present their opinions on the sentence to be imposed in the case. If the hearing of a case takes more than one day, it is usually continued on the very next day.

All matters are handled orally in a trial. Any written statements are no longer read. Most trials are open to the public, which means that anyone is welcome to attend a hearing. The court may, however, under certain conditions decide that a case is to be heard behind closed doors.