What are the Seven Stages of Criminal Trial?


The code of criminal procedure, 1973 is a procedural branch of law. The code of criminal procedure, 1973 basically deals with the rules and procedure to be followed while dealing with criminal cases in India. The jurisprudential essence of the code of criminal procedure has to be seen in light of balance done within the mechanism of criminal procedure. The societal interest involved is that the crime is considered to be a wrong against society at large, however, at the same time the accused also have some fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India.  Therefore while dealing with criminal cases, the authority (police) & courts must adhere with the provisions of code of criminal procedure, 1973.



The first stage in a criminal case is a pre-trial stage. As it is very clear from its name pre- trial means it is a stage before trial. In this stage the police officials/investigating officer of the case has a main role. When there is a commission of an offence then FIR is lodged after that police starts investigation. Collection evidences, Arrest of the accused, production of accused before magistrate, Bail procedure, Filing Charge sheet. Basically in short we can conclude that pre-trail is that stage where police investigate the whole offence and prepare report & meanwhile the accused can use the rights which he have.


The second stage is trial. Trial means when the criminal proceedings against accused has start before the court. Following are the seven stages of criminal trial:-

  1. Commencement of proceedings before court
  2. Framing of charges
  3. Prosecution evidence
  4. Statement of accused
  5. Defence evidence
  6. Final arguments
  7. Judgment

1. Commencement of proceedings before court:

The first stage of a criminal trial is commencement of proceedings before magistrate. In this stage the magistrate on the report filed by police or on the basis of complaint take the cognizance and further order for investigation if necessary.

Chapter XVI, section 204 – 210 of “The code of criminal procedure, 1973” deals with the commencement of proceedings before the magistrates. There are three types of criminal case. 1. Warrant case, 2. Summon case, 3. Summary case. In simple terms warrant case are those where punishment for offence is imprisonment for more than seven years. Summon case are those where punishment for offence is imprisonment for maximum two years. In summary case the punishment for offence is maximum six months. According to section 2(x)“warrant-case” means a case relating to an offence punishable with death, imprisonment for life or imprisonment for a term exceeding two years  According to section 2(w) “summons-case” means a case relating to an offence, and not being a warrant-case. Chapter XXI section 260-265 deals with the summary trial.

On the basis of offence and punishment the magistrate classifies the case/trial and therefore follow the procedure for it accordingly. Therefore the commencement of proceedings before magistrate take place.

2. Framing of charges:

The second stage in criminal trial is framing of charges. When the case comes before magistrate and on findings magistrate feels that case is genuine/true and accused should not be discharged then court will frame charges against him.

Chapter XVII, section 211-224 of “The code of criminal procedure, 1973” deals with charges. Framing of charges is important step as it give details of the charges, section, offence on which the accused is going to be tried. The framing of charges give a clear information to both accused and court that what are the offence trial will take place. The jurisprudence value of framing of charges is that the fair trial can be take place and to tell accused that on these charges he is facing trial.

3. Prosecution evidence:

When charges against accused is framed by court, the third stage is of prosecution evidence. In this stage of prosecution evidence the public prosecutor who is counsel for the state basically the counsel for the complainant produce evidences against accused. The prosecution evidence plays an important role in criminal trial as their evidences will prove accused guilty for the offence. In this stage the prosecution will produce their witnesses to support the facts of the case.

4. Statement of the accused:

The fourth stage is statement of the accused. In simple terms statement of the accused means the accused must be given an opportunity to be heard. Accused must tell/narrate the facts of the case to the court. Section 313 of the code of criminal procedure, 1973 deals with the statement of the accused. Section 313 read as follow: Power to examine the accused.

5. Defence evidence:

The fifth stage in the criminal trial is defence evidence. The accused who is facing the criminal trial has a right to defend himself therefore accused has an opportunity to put forward his evidences to prove himself innocent.  Basically the burden of proof lies upon the prosecution to prove accused guilty but according to rule of justice and fair trial the accused should be given an opportunity to defend himself.

6. Final arguments:

The sixth stage is of final arguments. In this stage both the counsel i.e prosecution and counsel for accused will argue for the last and final time. In this stage both the person present their arguments and try to convince the magistrate to belief their part or try to prove their part.

7. Judgment:

The last stage in the criminal trial is judgment. The judgment means the final decision of the court. After hearing both sides the court will give its decision. The decision will either result in acquittal of the accused or the conviction of the accused. When the court convicts the accused, the punishment is given to the accused for the offence he has committed. After the judgment the parties have right to appeal or review or revision.

Therefore there are total seven stages in a criminal trial. All these stages are very important in a criminal trial. This will ensure the fair trial.


The post- trial stage is a third stage in a criminal case. This stage comes in the picture after the trial stage, when the judgment is delivered. Post- trial stage consist of the appeals, revision and review.


Criminal procedure by R.V Kelkar, sixth edition EBC

This article is written by Manmeet Singh, B.B.A LL.B (3RD YEAR ) student at Delhi Metropolitan Education, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University. 

Also Read – Difference Between Hearing And Trial

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