During the trial, the prosecutor alleges that an individual, the defendant, has committed a given crime and must then prove this to be the case.
If the defendant denies the crime, the prosecutor must present sufficient evidence to convince the court beyond reasonable doubt that the allegation is true. The prosecutor also has a duty to report any facts that are favourable to the defendant's case.
If new information comes to light during the trial that materially affects the case, the prosecutor may need to reassess the indictment. Under exceptional circumstances, the indictment may be withdrawn during the trial.
The prosecutor plays a very active role in court.
The principle of immediacy requires that the court base its decision solely on the evidence presented during the trial itself. Among other things, this implies that the defendant is not bound by what he or she has said in interviews conducted during the investigation. It also means that the prosecutor and defendant are not normally permitted to play recordings or read transcripts of interviews. Transcripts of interviews may however be read out if the testimony given in court differs from statements made in interviews.
There are two parties to the trial: the prosecutor and the defendant. The defendant may be entitled to a public defence counsel, generally referred to as a defence lawyer. If there is one or more injured parties, victims of the crime, they may be entitled to their own counsel.
It is for the court to decide whether the prosecutor’s evidence is sufficient to convict the defendant.
In district courts, the court consists of one legally-qualified, presiding judge and, usually, three lay judges. Lay judges do not have legal training. Cases before the courts of appeal are heard by a panel consisting of three legally-qualified judges, one of whom presides, and, usually, two lay judges.