Mock Trial

Create your own crime scene, Investigate someone else's


Final Unit: Mock Trial

(Schedule for the unit)

In this unit you are going to design and create a crime scene for another group to investigate. This will include backstories, evidence, photographing a crime scene and creating a scale sketch of the scene. After creating the crime scene and the required materials, your group will be given a new case to investigate, and another group will get the case you’ve created to investigate. You will investigate and build a case that you will take to trial. You are going to be the prosecution and the group that created the case will be the defense (meaning you will also be the defense for the case you created). The rest of your classmates are going to be the jury and I will be the judge.

This Unit will take approximately 21 days from start to end, with the following breakdown:

Realistically, you should be ‘going ahead’ with some of this. For example; as you are investigating and gathering evidence, you should also be preparing some of your prosecution seamlessly, making visual aids and such.

In order to hold each other accountable, there will also be a weekly peer evaluation form that you will need to submit for each one of your group members including yourself. It can be found here: Peer Evaluation Form

Designing and Planning (4 days)

Design: It is important to keep this information confidential and not let other groups find out the entire story before you get going, so that everyone is allowed to have an authentic investigative experience. Which case each group gets to investigate will be determined by me, so it isn’t safe to share this information with any other group. If you leak this information at any point, you will need to start over.

  • What is story? Who/what/where/when/why/how of your case.

  • The victim: Cause, mechanism and manner of death must be provided (unless you will supply an autopsy report and have the investigators determine this as a part of their investigation).

  • Who are the characters involved? A basic level of information that you would consider to be public knowledge must be provided (think ‘what would I know if I was facebook friends with these people?’)

  • What evidence is going to be left behind and how did it get there? Minimum of 3 different kinds of evidence must be used, but any evidence that could realistically be expected at the crime scene should be accounted for. Fill out the evidence form (50 pts, 4/23). Note: If they will need to send anything to ‘The Lab’, prepare the results that they would get, because YOU ARE THE LAB. Ex: they want to run a blood test; have blood test results ready for them to interpret…I will have templates for some of these.

  • How will the investigators ‘find’ the suspect? Write up the chain of investigative steps you see as being the ‘path to conviction’ that the investigators could follow. Successful Investigation Sheet (50 pts, 4/23). Your final product will need to be submitted to me.


  • What do you need to get in order to set up this crime scene? Where will you get it from?

  • Plan out how you will create the crime scene and the evidence required to be found there.

  • Will you use a public space to create the crime scene? Will you use someone’s home? Will you use the school? Let’s try to avoid ‘I know the pictures are showing a bedroom but pretend it’s a restaurant’ situations.

  • Plan out your logistics. When/How are you going to create the evidence, the crime scene, measure the crime scene (you will need to create a scale sketch), plant the evidence in appropriate places, photograph the crime scene (including something for scale in each picture)

Create and Execute (5 days)

  • Create the evidence that will be found at the crime scene

  • Create the crime scene with the evidence tagged with markers

  • Photograph the crime scene (remember to include a source for scale)

  • Measure the crime scene and create a scale sketch

  • Prepare a Dossier for the group that will get this case to investigate

  • Rubric for this stage can be found here (120 pts, 5/1)

Investigate Your Assigned Case (~5 days)

  • Investigate

  • Get and Carry Out Search warrants (I will be the judge that issues search warrants, but the other group will tell you what you find)

  • Run tests/Send them off to the lab

  • Determine who in your group will be the expert witness for the various evidence(s)

  • Start planning your prosecution (and defense for the case you created).

Use this time to investigate your assigned case. Run any tests that you can physically do, and submit your evidence analysis requests to the group that created the case. This stage should be what you are used to from class, with the exception that you are also filling in the role that I played for you. You will also be ‘The Lab’ for the group investigating the case you created.

As you start to acquire evidence and test results, start to build a case and coordinating what role each person will play.

Prepare Your Prosecution (& defense) (~4 days)

You may have seen some crime shows where the prosecution or defense drops a surprise piece of evidence that completely catches their counterpart off guard. In real life, this is not allowed. Both sides need to share with the other what evidence they are going possibly going to use in the trial. They don’t, however, need to share what they are going to do with that evidence or their strategy. For example:

If you planned on using a shoe found at the crime scene as evidence in your trial, you would just need to inform the opposition that it was evidence you were going to use. You do not need to inform them of how, whether it be by arguing ‘if the shoe doesn’t fit, you must acquit’, or by saying that that particular shoe couldn’t have left the set of prints found (the prints would also need to be declared as evidence though).

To that end, create a list of evidence that you plan on possibly using in your trial and share it with the opposition.

Trials (2 periods each case)

During the trial the investigating team will play both the role of the prosecution and expert witnesses, taking turns with each role (lawyer and expert(s)). This is similar to what we have done in the past. Any eyewitnesses will be supplied by the defense, as they are the ones that set up this story. The Defense may also have their own witnesses to call upon. Students not involved in the prosecution or defense are part of the jury and are responsible for completing the Juror Assignment.

The Trial will proceed in the following steps:

Source: (

  • Opening statements. The prosecution and then the defense make opening statements to the judge or jury. These statements provide an outline of the case that each side expects to prove. Because neither side wants to look foolish to the jury, the attorneys are careful to promise only what they think they can deliver. In some cases, the defense attorney reserves opening statement until the beginning of the defense case. The lawyer may even choose not to give an opening statement, perhaps to emphasize to the jury that it's the prosecution's burden to do the convincing.

  • Prosecution case-in-chief. The prosecution presents its main case through direct examination of prosecution witnesses.

  • Cross-examination. The defense may cross-examine the prosecution witnesses. (Also see What are 're-direct' and 're-cross' examination?)

  • Prosecution rests. The prosecution finishes presenting its case.

  • Motion to dismiss (optional). The defense may move to dismiss the charges if it thinks that the prosecution has failed to produce enough evidence—even if the jury believes the evidence—to support a guilty verdict. (For more information, see Acquittals by Judges in Jury Trials.)

  • Denial of motion to dismiss. Almost always, the judge denies the defense motion to dismiss.

  • Defense case-in-chief. The defense presents its main case through direct examination of defense witnesses.

  • Cross-examination. The prosecutor cross-examines the defense witnesses.

  • Defense rests. The defense finishes presenting its case.

  • Prosecution closing argument. The prosecution makes its closing argument, summarizing the evidence as the prosecution sees it and explaining why the jury should render a guilty verdict.

  • Defense closing argument. The defense's counterpart to the prosecutor's closing argument. The lawyer explains why the jury should render a "not guilty" verdict—or at least a guilty verdict on only a lesser charge.

  • Prosecution rebuttal. The prosecution has the last word, if it chooses to take it, and again argues that the jury has credible evidence that supports a finding of guilty.

  • Jury deliberations. The jury deliberates and tries to reach a verdict. Juries must typically be unanimous. (But see Do criminal jury verdicts have to be unanimous?) If less than the requisite number of jurors agrees on a verdict, the jury is "hung" and the case may be retried.

  • Sentencing. Assuming a conviction (a verdict of "guilty"), the judge either sentences the defendant on the spot or sets sentencing for another day.

This is all to take place within the timeframe of two class periods. The Prosecution will be given the first period for their case, and the defense will have the second period. The Rubric for the Prosecution and Defense teams can be found here.

Here is a list of possible objections that you may want to be familiar with.