Van Wagner & Wood Home Page
Van Wagner & Wood Attorney Chris Van Wagner Attorney Tracey Wood
Madison WI   
Toll Free   
"If I needed a very experienced criminal defense attorney, Attorney Chris Van Wagner definitely is the criminal defense lawyer that I would hire. He is brilliant and his track record proves it." -- Wisconsin State Journal

Wisconsin criminal attorney Tracey Wood named to Top 25 Women In Law in Wisconsin (Super Lawyers), Women In The Law (Wisconsin Journal) & president of Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Repeatedly Voted Madison's Best Drug Crimes DefenseDrunk Driving OWI Defense AttorneysVery Serious Felony Charges (Murder, Sexual Assault, Drugs)Wisconsin State & Federal ChargesWhite Collar Crime DefenseWisconsin Attorneys - Criminal & DUI Defense


You have a right to a trial by a jury of your peers

Wisconsin Jury Trial

The trial begins with the jury selection. Attorneys for both asides are allowed to question prospective jurors about their possible biases, prejudices, knowledge of the case on trial, and other matters relevant to sitting on a jury. Twelve people are selected [the jury of your peers] and sworn in as jurors, often along with one or more alternates.

The state begins by offering its evidence and witnesses in what is called its Case in Chief or Direct Case.The defense has the opportunity to test and poke holes in that evidence, through cross-examination (or questioning) of the States witnesses. When the state has produced all evidence it wishes to offer in its direct case, the State rests.Once the State has rested, the defense may ask the court for dismissal based on lack of any evidence. This request is rarely granted in any court. The defense may then offer evidence and testimony, but is not required to do so.

As part of any defense case, the accused defendant may decide to testify in his support of his own defense, but he may not be forced to do so.

The state and defense may then each offer rebuttal testimony attacking the other sides evidence. After any rebuttal evidence, the case - and the evidence - is closed.

At that time, the defense may once again ask the judge to dismiss or throw out one or all charges, this time on the ground that there is not enough credible evidence to support a guilty verdict. Upon the close of the case, each party then submits requests for written jury instructions to be given to the jury, which set out an accurate summary of the applicable law as well as the things that the jury must determine beyond a reasonable doubt before it can return a verdict of guilty. The court reviews these jury instructions, and decides which should or should not be used.

The court usually reads most of these to the jury before the two sides make their closing arguments.

Each side then makes its closing argument, or summation, to the jury. In Wisconsin, the State gives the initial closing summation. The defense then gets to make a closing argument, after which the prosecutor has the final word. If the defense makes no closing argument, or a very, brief, general one, the State may not be allowed to give a second closing argument afterwards.

Additional, alternate jurors are either removed and asked to remain in the event of the illness of a deliberating juror, or alternatively, they are dismissed from the jury and sent on their way.

The jury is instructed on how to conduct their deliberations and how to select their foreman (or presiding juror).

The jury then goes into a separate room, to undertake its deliberations. They are given a copy of the written jury instructions, and also allowed access to most exhibits introduced into evidence at trial.

When the jury has reached a unanimous verdict (and they must all agree on a verdict or no verdict can be returned), it notifies the court in writing, and they are brought back into open court to announce that verdict.

After the verdict is announced, the judge usually polls the jury by asking each juror to affirm the verdict as his or her own. After accepting the verdicts, the court usually dismisses the jurors with thanks, and then releases them.

The court then enters judgment on the returned verdicts.

If the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict on one or more counts, the judge can also grant a mistrial on the basis of a hung jury, and then inquire if the prosecutor will retry the case. Depending on the verdict and several other factors, the defendant is either released outright, released on bond pending sentencing, or remanded into custody, in anticipation of a sentencing date.

See Also: Jury Rules, Jury Procedures, Double Jeopardy |
Witnesses | Hostile Witnesses |

Contact Van Wagner & Wood

If you are under investigation for a crime or drunk driving offense, if you have already been charged with a crime or drunk driving violation, or if you have already been convicted but believe your conviction or your sentence were wrong, call ( locally in Madison, Wisconsin, through Wisconsin) or e-mail ( ) the attorneys at Van Wagner & Wood right away. They will give you a brief but professional first-impression analysis of your case and your situation, which will allow you to take an important first step in defending the case against you. You can also submit information about a criminal offense investigation or charge or a drunk driving OWI investigation or charge for a free case review.