The PLEA: Mock Trials

The PLEA: Mock Trials

Developing Your Own Mock Trial: Criminal Cases

Most mock trial kits, such as PLEA’s R. v. Wyler, include the information needed to stage a mock trial. However, it is not always necessary to use a prepared kit to engage a class in a mock trial. Mock trials can be developed based on anything from current events to famous trials in history.

Just like a prepared mock trial kit, certain elements of a court trial must be included if you are developing your own mock trial based on criminal law. Fortunately, a good mock trial kit, such as PLEA’s R v Wyler will have many basic steps required for any mock trial, such as courtroom personnel outlines and basic courtroom set-ups and procedures.

When it comes to choosing the situation for your mock trial, ambiguous cases often work best. There are many ways to choose a case: it could be based on a recent real-life case, a historical case such as the trial of Louis Riel, or it can even be a case of your own making.

Most prepared mock trial kits will include a draft trial script so that students understand procedure and information outlining the basic roles and duties of each official in the courthouse. Other materials will need to be prepared, such as:

  1. Relevant Law
    You will need to look up the relevant law and explain it to your students. PLEA has a great deal of plain-language information that clarifies laws. Go to and search the area of the law you have questions about.
  2. Exhibits
    A good mock trial will often use interesting exhibits. For example, a murder trial may include the weapon that was alleged to have been used in the crime. A theft may include the items alleged to have been stolen.
  3. Witness Role Sheets
    In order for witnesses to understand and develop the roles they are to play, they will need a basic outline of their role as witnesses. The role sheets can be fairly brief, and may not even be required if your mock trial is based on a literary work.

With these tools in place, you can be on your way to a successful mock trial. While developing your own mock trial may require more preparation than a prepared mock trial kit, it can also be a lot of fun and very relevant to particular issues studied in class! And as mentioned, don’t be afraid to make it a cross-curricular project. As just one example, think of the potential of an ELA - Law - Arts Education collaboration to put Jack on trial for the attempted murder of Ralph in Lord of the Flies. The only limit is your creativity.

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