Sample Mock Trial Closing Argument for a Assault Case
Thank you for your attention, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, on this very important case.
The prosecutor didn’t face a threat that night. The judge didn’t face a threat that night, and the 12 of you didn’t face a threat that night. Only one person did. And that is my client. He did what he thought he had to. None of us had to make the split second decision that he did. And yet, we are all asked to second guess him today. To Monday-morning quarterback him, if you will. It was Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendall Holmes who said that “you can’t expect calm detachment in the presence of an uplifted knife.” Now there was no knife involved in this case, but the point is the same. People have to make split second decisions in exercising self-defense. Sometimes people in hindsight should have, or could have, handled the matter differently. But hindsight isn’t the measure we use when judging a defendant’s actions. Rather we analyze what happened from the perspective of how things looked at the time to my client.
The alleged victim doesn’t look so scary in the light of day, in the courtroom witness chair, all dressed up, cleaned up. But that is not the circumstance when my client used force, is it? The man came at my client in a dark alley behind a tavern, and no one knew or could have known his intentions. And my client decided that he wanted to go home that night, that he wanted to survive.
Self-defense is not just the stuff of law books. Self-defense is a defense that nature herself recognizes, a recognition really that any living creature is going to act, or react a certain way when faced with a threat.
My client faces a serious offense. He is charged with a violent crime. His life is on the line. You think the police would have done a more thorough job in the investigation. You really would. You would think my client would be entitled to a fair investigation before people would pass judgment on him. The police should have tried to find independent witnesses who were at the tavern that night. They did not. How come none of the bartenders were subpoenaed? Instead the police relied on the word of the alleged victim and his friends. And you know the kind of people they are. None of their stories matched. Half of them admitted to drug use on the night in question. Is that the type of scant proof that can send a man to jail? Doesn’t my client deserve better? Don’t we all? Hold the state to its burden. A conviction in this case would be a travesty. Do the right thing.
Example of the prosecutor’s response: Thank you for your attention in this matter. Ladies and gentlemen, there is a difference between “self-defense” and retribution. There is a difference between self-defense and an over-reaction. And there is a difference between what constitutes reasonable doubt, and what amounts to just excuses by the defendant. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the defendant provoked the fight that night by his aggressive conduct. The law doesn’t allow a man to pick a fight, and then create the need to then defend himself.
There is a saying that actions speak louder than words. We ask you to judge the defendant by his actions, by what he did that night, not by what he said today in the courtroom. His claims today do not match his actions on that day in question.
We are a nation of laws, and every one of us must follow those laws. You know what? If you have a problem with someone, you just walk away. Or you can even tell them off. You can tell them “you’re no good” or “you’re a jerk.” You can really say that, because that is freedom of speech. But what you can’t do is lay hands on someone. You can’t punch them, and you can’t slap them. The law doesn’t allow that. And we all live by these laws. I think we all have that temptation sometime in our life, to lash out. But you resist that impulse. Everyone has to do that. It is part of being a grown up. It is part of living in a civilized society. Our system is a system that holds people accountable for things like that. And it is part of what makes this country great.
This notion of accountability has a big place in our criminal justice system, that we are all accountable for our actions. Now we don’t always like being held accountable, and we don’t always own up to what we have done, but we all have to face the consequences of our own actions. Every one of us.
The defense has essentially put the victim on trial, pointing out that the victim is a thief, that the victim is a drug addict. But that doesn’t justify what happened to him. It cannot. We are all entitled to the protection of the laws. Even the victim. I would submit to you that the victim has more in common with us than we might first think. He has hopes and dream like we do, he feels pain like we do, and as you can tell from the hospital photos, he bleeds red like we do. And you know what, I am sure there was never a time when he looked in the mirror that he didn’t wish that he made more of his life than he did. But he didn’t deserve what happened to him. No one deserves that. Maybe he didn’t get the breaks in life that some of us did, or maybe he did and he blew it, and God knows he made a lot of mistakes in his life, but you know what? He has paid for every one of those mistake, everyone.
I want to talk about what I need to prove in this case. I also want to talk about what I don’t have to prove. The law says I must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that on or about March 11th, 2013, that the defendant struck Jack Rain, and did so intentionally, and that there was an absence of self-defense. I don’t have to prove why, what the motive was, or whether the injury was cause by a punch or a kick. Just that an assault occurred. That is what I have to prove. That is it. I don’t have to prove that the defendant is a bad person. And you know what, I maybe couldn’t prove that. This case, no case, is a judgment of a person. Rather it is a judgment of their actions. Maybe the defendant had a bad day, maybe he had too much to drink. And defendant isn’t the first guy who found himself a little trouble on a Saturday night, and he won’t be the last. But I would ask that you find him accountable for what he did. And that is assault in the 4th degree. Thank you.
For more information, see our page on assault .
For more sample closings, see here ., for more information visit our mock trial homepage ., get in touch with steve graham today.
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Each side gives a closing statement at the conclusion of the trial, after all evidence has been given. Each lawyer will give a summary of the evidence the judge heard on the key issues, and offer their opinion on the reasons the judge has to find in their favour.
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How to Write a Closing Argument
Last Updated: January 3, 2021 Approved
This article was co-authored by Srabone Monir, JD . Srabone Monir, Esq., is an Attorney based in New York. She received her JD from the St. John's University School of Law in 2013, and has used her legal training in positions for 32BJ SEIU, the New York Legal Assistance Group, and Disability Rights New York. She is currently a Principal Law Clerk with the New York State Supreme Court. She is also a VA Accredited Attorney as of 2015 and is licensed to practice law in New Jersey and in New York. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 11 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 309,282 times.
A closing argument is delivered by an attorney at the end of a trial, after all of the evidence has been presented, witnesses and experts have been questioned, and the theory behind a prosecution or a defense has been given. A closing argument is the last chance an attorney has to address the judge and jury.  X Research source That is why it's so important to write a closing argument that is memorable, factual, and informative.
Preparing to Write a Closing Argument
- Be sure that you have notes about damaging testimony that you were presented with during the trial. This will give you the opportunity to reference that evidence in your closing argument.
- For instance, in a murder case, important details that both sides may want to talk about include the physical evidence that may link the defendant to the murder, whether or not the defendant has an alibi, any problems with the murder investigation, and any motive the defendant may have had to commit the murder.
- For example, if you are the prosecutor during a murder trial, use a picture of the victim when he or she was still alive, a timeline of the defendant's movements around the time of the murder or a word that represents your theory of the case (such as jealousy or greed).
- To ensure that you use visuals aids effectively, choose one or two that you can use throughout the trial, and make sure that whatever visual you use is easily understood by the jury.
- To use a visual aid during your closing argument you may need to get approval from the judge. You must get permission from the judge to show pictures or other types of visual aids that were not admitted into evidence during the trial. However, if the visual aid that you plan to use in your closing argument is an exhibit that was admitted into evidence during the trial, you can use it without approval.
Reviewing Your Case
- The theory of the case is essentially each side's version of what happened, and if the juror's believe one side's theory, that side wins. Because the theory of the case stays the same throughout the trial, the jury should be familiar with each side's theory of the case when closing arguments are given.
- Bring up your theory at the beginning of your closing argument. Try to bring it up during the first 30 seconds of your argument to focus the jury's attention on the theory. Then continue to reference the theory throughout the rest of the argument.
- Be sure to use active, descriptive language and strong transitions between ideas. This will help capture the jury's attention and help them sympathize with your client.
- The prosecution and the defense will necessarily have different views of the facts, so make sure that whichever side you are on, you tell the jury the facts in a way that is favorable to you.
- For example, making an analogy between a murder case and the Cain and Abel story in the Bible may work if the facts are similar because many people have heard the story. On the other hand, analogizing a jealous murder to Shakespeare's Othello will probably not help the jury understand your case, because not too many people read Shakespeare.
- You may also use rhymes and phrases to drive home your argument to the jury. For example, during the famous O.J. Simpson trial, the defense attorney coined the phrase “if the glove doesn't fit you must acquit” to make sure that the jury would not forget an important piece of evidence: the glove.
Attacking the Opposition's Case
- Things that they say or that their witnesses testify to that are not supported by evidence, or
- Things that they say or their witnesses testify to that you can refute with your own evidence.
- For example, you could point out that your opponent is paying their expert witness to testify, and therefore that testimony is not as credible because it is essentially exchanged for money.
- You could also point out that other witnesses may have a stake in the outcome of the case. For instance, if a defendant's mother testifies that he was with her at the time the crime was committed, you could point out that as his mother she does not want him to go to jail, and therefore she could be lying.
- It is also likely that a witness on the other side made some sort of inadvertent comment during testimony that is not helpful, and may even be harmful, to the other side's case. Point this out during your closing.
- However, in a criminal case, you may not make any comments about the defendant choosing not to testify in his own defense. Such comments violate the fifth amendment prohibition against self-incrimination, and making statements such as “he didn't testify because he's guilty” and similar ones is grounds for a mistrial.
Concluding Your Closing Arguments
- However, make sure that you do not argue improperly by appealing to the jurors prejudices against a certain group of people. For example, it is improper to make an argument for a high award of damages based on the wealth of the individual or corporation that is being sued. It is additionally improper to ask the jury to base their verdict on characteristics of the defendant or victim such as race or sex.
- Some examples include talking about a juror's duty to uphold the law and dispense justice, or talking about how letting a defendant go free would put him or her back on the streets to commit more crimes.
- For instance, the prosecutor could say to the jury that “the verdict in this case does more than decide just this case. The verdict is a message to the community that you will not tolerate crime and those who commit crimes.”
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- Remember to be organized. The jury will need to see the story from start to finish. Keep the argument chronological so the jury does not get confused or misunderstand your case. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Closing rebuttals are available for prosecutors in criminal cases. This can be used if something new and unexpected is brought up by the defense in their closing argument. To do a rebuttal, ask the court to reserve a minute or two of your time at the start of your argument. Failure to save time will result in the court not allowing you to do a rebuttal. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- This article offers legal information, not legal advice. For legal advice, contact a licensed attorney. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 2
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- ↑ http://www.law.indiana.edu/instruction/tanford/web/reference/09close.pdf
- ↑ http://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/get-informed/federal-court-resources/closing-arguments.aspx
- Thomas A. Mauet: Trial Techniques, Ninth Edition.
About This Article
To write a closing argument, start with your theory of the crime, which you should try to bring up within the first 30 seconds of your closing argument. Then, review your evidence by taking the jury step-by-step through the facts of the case from your side's perspective. You should also point out flaws and discrepancies in the other side's argument to help discredit them. Finally, conclude your closing argument by appealing to the jury's emotions and making a strong final statement. To learn how to outline your closing argument, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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