Opening Statement Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Opening Statement, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Opening Statement?

It refers to the statement provided by the lawyers/attornies of both the sides at the opening of the trial and in front of the Jury. The statement gives the full details and factual informations genuine to the case to give an exact nature of the case. These opening statements are not arguable as they would be argued and proved during the trials. Defendants attorney may delay its statement till the plaintiffs statement is stated.

History and Meaning of Opening Statement

The opening statement is a crucial part of any legal trial. It is the initial statement given by both the prosecution and defense attorneys to the jury outlining what evidence they will present and what they will try to prove during the trial. The opening statement is not an opportunity for argument, but rather a chance to set the stage for the jury and provide a preview of what evidence they will hear.

The origins of the opening statement go back to the early days of the common law legal system. The practice of lawyers presenting opening statements to juries emerged as a way to provide a clear and concise summary of a case to the jurors. The goal was to give the jurors an overview of the case and help them understand the issues at hand.

Examples of Opening Statement

  1. In a murder trial, the prosecution's opening statement might outline the evidence they will present to show that the defendant committed the crime, while the defense's opening statement might detail their case for why the defendant is not guilty.
  2. When presenting a case of medical malpractice, the opening statement for the plaintiff's lawyer might provide a chronology of events leading up to the incident, while the defense's opening statement would explain why their client is not responsible.
  3. In a civil case where a plaintiff was injured in a car accident, the opening statement for the plaintiff's lawyer could explain how the accident occurred and the damages they are seeking, while the defense's opening statement could dispute liability.

Legal Terms Similar to Opening Statement

  1. Closing argument - The final argument given by attorneys in a trial, where they attempt to persuade the jury to accept their version of events.
  2. Direct examination - An examination of a witness by the party that called the witness to the stand.
  3. Cross-examination - An examination of a witness by the opposing party to challenge the witness's testimony.