opening statement | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

An opening statement in the criminal justice context is a statement made by an attorney at the beginning of a criminal trial, outlining the facts and legal arguments that they intend to present during the trial.

The purpose of the opening statement is to give the jury a preview of the evidence that will be presented and to provide an outline of the case from the attorney’s perspective.

During an opening statement, the attorney will typically provide an overview of the charges against the defendant, the evidence that will be presented, and the legal theories that will be used to support the prosecution’s case. The attorney may also describe the witnesses that will be called and each witness’s role in the case.

While an opening statement is not considered evidence, it can be a powerful tool for setting the trial’s tone and influencing the jury’s perceptions of the case. A well-crafted opening statement can help the prosecution establish credibility and build a strong case against the defendant.

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Last Modified: 03/10/2023


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