You can enter one of two kinds of pleas: you can plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead not guilty, then the prosecution will present evidence against you. After the presentation of the prosecution’s evidence, you can present your evidence or, you can make a submission that no case has been proved against you. The court will then decide on the sufficiency of the evidence to prove you're guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
When a criminal complaint or a civil complaint has been filed against you, the court will issue summons to you ordering you to appear in court. The summons will be accompanied by a copy of the criminal or civil complaint. The criminal complaint will be the basis of the criminal charge against you. This criminal charge will be read to you when you appear in court. This hearing is called the arraignment.
When you are arraigned, and the criminal charge is read to you, you can enter a plea. A plea is your response to the charge. After the charge is read, the clerk of the court will ask you how you will plead. You can enter a guilty plea. A guilty plea means that you admit the charge against you. You can also enter a ‘not guilty’ plea. This means that you deny all the charges against you.
When you enter a ‘not guilty’ plea, the prosecution will begin to present the evidence it has against you. The prosecution will present all the witnesses, and after they give their direct testimony, you will be able to examine the witnesses and test them for their credibility.
You can ask them questions so that you can test their testimony for truth. After the prosecution has presented all the evidence, you can then do one of two things: you can present evidence in your behalf and present a defence; or, you can make a submission that the prosecution has not made a case and has not proven the elements of the crime.
When you submit that the prosecution has not made a case, the court will have to look at the evidence presented by the prosecution. The court will then determine if your guilt can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt will all the evidence already presented by the prosecution.
If the court finds that the evidence presented by the prosecution is sufficient, then you will be convicted of the crime, and you will be sentenced. If the court finds that the evidence presented by the prosecution is insufficient to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, then the court will acquit you.
Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.