In law, a trial is a coming together of parties to a dispute, to present information (in the form of evidence) in a tribunal, a formal setting with the authority to adjudicate claims or disputes. One form of tribunal is a court. The tribunal, which may occur before a judge, jury, or other designated trier of fact, aims to achieve a resolution to their dispute.
Types of trial divided by the finder of fact
Hearings before administrative bodies may have many of the features of a trial before a court, but are typically not referred to as trials.
An appellate proceeding is also generally not deemed a trial, because such proceedings are usually restricted to review of the evidence presented before the trial court, and do not permit the introduction of new evidence.
Types of trial divided by the type of dispute
Trials can also be divided by the type of dispute at issue.
A criminal trial is designed to resolve accusations brought (usually by a government) against a person accused of a crime. In common law systems, most criminal defendants are entitled to a trial held before a jury. Because the state is attempting to use its power to deprive the accused of life, liberty, or property, the rights of the accused afforded to criminal defendants are typically broad. The rules of criminal procedure provide rules for criminal trials.
A civil trial is generally held to settle lawsuits or civil claims—non-criminal disputes. In some countries, the government can both sue and be sued in a civil capacity. The rules of civil procedure provide rules for civil trials.
Administrative hearing and trial
Although administrative hearings are not ordinarily considered trials, they retain many elements found in more "formal" trial settings. When the dispute goes to judicial setting, it is called an administrative trial, to revise the administrative hearing, depending on the jurisdiction. The types of disputes handled in these hearings is governed by administrative law and auxiliarily by the civil trial law.
Labor law (also known as employment law) is the body of laws, administrative rulings, and precedents which address the legal rights of, and restrictions on, working people and their organizations. As such, it mediates many aspects of the relationship between trade unions, employers and employees. In Canada, employment laws related to unionized workplaces are differentiated from those relating to particular individuals. In most countries however, no such distinction is made. However, there are two broad categories of labour law. First, collective labour law relates to the tripartite relationship between employee, employer and union. Second, individual labour law concerns employees' rights at work and through the contract for work. The labour movement has been instrumental in the enacting of laws protecting labour rights in the 19th and 20th centuries. Labour rights have been integral to the social and economic development since the industrial revolution.
The form of the trial
There are two primary systems for conducting a trial:
A judge may cancel a trial prior to the return of a verdict; legal parlance designates this as a mistrial.
A judge may declare a mistrial due to:
A declaration of a mistrial generally means that a court must hold a retrial on the same subject.
Other kinds of trials
Some other kinds of processes for resolving conflicts are also expressed as trials. For example, the United States Constitution requires that, following the impeachment of the President, a judge, or another federal officer by the House of Representatives, the subject of the impeachment may only be removed from office by a trial in the Senate.
In earlier times disputes were often settled through a trial by ordeal, where parties would have to endure physical suffering in order to prove their righteousness; or through a trial by combat, in which the winner of a physical fight was deemed righteous in their cause.