As a Freeport lawyer will tell their criminal defense clients, the United States Constitution provides certain protections to those accused of committing crimes. Two of the most crucial protections provided under the Bill of Rights are that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty, and that the government must prove defendants guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Other important rights include:
Right to a Jury Trial
Individuals accused of crimes that are more serious than petty offenses by Freeport lawyers acting as prosecutors have the right to be tried by a jury. Petty offenses are those involving sentences of six months or less of incarceration. While this right is typically taken to mean a 12-person jury, juries can constitutionally be made up of as few as six people. In those situations, defendants can typically be convicted only when the jury makes a unanimous decision of guilt.
Of course, most cases in general require that a unanimous verdict of guilt be reached. In a c ase where that unanimity is not reached, it is called a “hung jury” and the defendant will usually go free. The prosecutingFreeport lawyer does have the option to retry the case, and often will.
Potential jurors are required to be chosen at random from the community, and the jury selection process must allow the judge and Freeport lawyers to screen out biased jurors. Additionally, a Freeport lawyer may eliminate several potential jurors for no reason other than the feeling that the people would be unsympathetic to his or her side–but may not make these “peremptory challenges” for reasons based on the juror’s personal characteristics like race, sex, religion, or national origin.
Right to a Speedy Trial
Another right guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment is that promising a “speedy trial.” While the Constitution does not specify a specific time limit, judges usually decide on a case-by-case basis whether the defendant’s trial has been delayed enough to justify throwing the case out. Judges will consider the length of the delay, the factors for the delay, and whether or not the delay has served to prejudice the defending Freeport lawyer’s case. Most, if not all, jurisdictions have enacted laws establishing time limits for moving cases from the filing of initial charges to actual trial. Defendants can rarely have their convictions overturned on the grounds these statutes were violated, however.
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