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Navigating Texas Criminal Trials: The Order of Proceedings Explained

By Sholdon Daniels

Call 1-844-SHOLDON for assistance.

Understanding the order of proceedings is crucial for both the defendant and their defense team, as well as the prosecution, to ensure that each party has a fair trial.


The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure outlines the order of proceedings for a criminal trial in Article 36.01. The order of proceedings provides a structure for how the trial will proceed, including when the indictment or information will be read to the jury, the presentation of testimony and evidence, and what happens after a finding of guilt.


The following is a detailed breakdown of each step in the order of proceedings:


Reading of Indictment or Information: The first step in a criminal trial is the reading of the indictment or information to the jury by the attorney prosecuting the case. The indictment or information is a formal accusation that outlines the charges against the defendant.


Special Pleas: If the defendant's counsel intends to make any special pleas, they will be read after the indictment or information has been read. These pleas may include challenges to the validity of the indictment or information, such as claiming that the charges violate the defendant's constitutional rights.


State's Opening Statement: The attorney representing the State will then provide an opening statement to the jury, explaining the nature of the accusations and the facts that are expected to be proved.


State's Presentation of Evidence: The State will then present its case, which includes the presentation of evidence and testimony from witnesses. This may include physical evidence, expert witnesses, and eyewitness testimony.


Defendant's Opening Statement: After the State has presented its case, the defendant's attorney may provide an opening statement to the jury. This statement will outline the nature of the defenses relied upon and the facts expected to be proved in their support.


Defendant's Presentation of Evidence: The defendant's attorney will then present their case, which includes the presentation of evidence and testimony from witnesses. This may include physical evidence, expert witnesses, and eyewitness testimony.


Rebuttal Evidence: After the defendant's case, the State may present rebuttal evidence to refute any evidence or testimony presented by the defense.


Jury Instructions: Once the evidence has been presented, the judge will give the jury instructions on how to apply the law to the evidence presented during the trial.


Deliberation and Verdict: After receiving instructions from the judge, the jury will deliberate and come to a verdict. If the verdict is guilty, the trial will then proceed to the punishment phase, as outlined in Article 37.07.


Remember that in some cases, the defendant's attorney may make the opening statement for the defendant immediately after the State's opening statement, and the order of proceedings will proceed accordingly.


The order of proceedings in a Texas criminal trial is crucial for both the defendant and their defense team, as well as the prosecution. By following the order of proceedings outlined in Article 36.01 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, all parties can ensure a fair and just trial. For more information on the order of proceedings in a Texas criminal trial, call 1-844-SHOLDON or follow me on Twitter at @SholdonDaniels.

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