Closing arguments typically include a summary of the evidence, conclusions that can be drawn from the evidence presented, an outline of the law the jury is to follow and a plea to the jury to take a specific action, Nolo says. The prosecution typically gives the first closing argument, followed by the defense attorney. Because the prosecution has the burden of proof, the prosecution can then have one more chance to respond to the defense's closing argument.Continue Reading
Judges generally give attorneys some freedom at closing, and a judge must carefully consider restrictions on closing arguments so they don't deny the defendant his opportunity to discuss important points with the jury. However, there are limits to a closing argument, Nolo says. If an attorney oversteps them, the judge tells the jury to disregard the statement. The closing arguments can only be based on the evidence, and the conclusions that the attorney wishes the jury to consider must be based on that evidence. Attorneys can't use a closing statement as a chance to introduce evidence that was not introduced at trial.
A closing argument cannot be confusing or prejudicial, Nolo says. Judges can restrict arguments that are unrelated to the case or are confusing. Name-calling is prohibited, and asking a jury to find the defendant guilty to send a message to other criminals is improper because the focus must only be on the defendant standing trial.Learn more about Law