Because you have been charged with a crime, your liberty may be at stake. The Constitution provides that your liberty cannot be deprived without due process of law. Your trial related Constitutional rights are very important in a criminal case, so it is important that you understand them.
You are presumed innocent. Just because you have been accused of wrong-doing does not mean you have done anything wrong, or that there is sufficient evidence to convict you. The State has the burden of proof. Their burden is a heavy one. They must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury of six of your peers that you committed the offense. In order to find you “guilty” or “not-guilty”, the result must be unanimous. Otherwise there is a hung jury , and the prosecutor may elect to have another trial.
You have the right to a trial by a jury of your peers. The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy speedy and public trial by an impartial jury” The right to trial by jury is a fundamental right, with its legal roots dating back to our ancient ancestors. The jury acts as the “finder of fact”. Jurors determine the facts based on the evidence presented at trial. The judge instructs the jury on the law. You can elect to be tried by a judge, but I usually do not recommend a judge trial, and I will contact you if I think it would be appropriate. Nonetheless, please contact me if you would like to have the judge hear your trial.
You have the right to a speedy trial. You have both a statutory and a Constitutional right to a speedy trial. The statute provides that for misdemeanor charges, you must be brought to trial within six months of the date of your not-guilty plea, otherwise, the charge may be dismissed after the judge considers the reason for the delay. When looking at whether the government has violated your Constitutional right to a speedy trial, the Court will review the length of the delay, the reasons for the delay, your assertion of your right to a speedy trial, and whether the delay caused you any prejudice. By asking for, and obtaining, a continuance, you may be the reason for the delay of your case. Typically, if you wish to postpone a Court date, the Court will require you to formally waive your right to a speedy trial. You also have the right to a fair, public trial that is open to the public.
You have the right to an impartial jury. A jury panel is drawn from a cross-section of the community. Biased jurors may be challenged for cause, and Idaho allows both the prosecutor and the Defendant to each remove up to four jurors from the panel without stating a reason. The remaining jurors will hear your case.
You have the right “to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation” against you, under the Sixth Amendment. You have the right to “be confronted with the witnesses against you”, under the Sixth Amendment. This means that you have the right to see, hear and ask any questions of the witness under oath, or have your attorney ask questions of the witness, on your behalf. This is called cross-examination. It also means you have the right to be present at your trial. You have the right “to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in [your] favor” under the Sixth Amendment. This means that we can subpoena witnesses to testify on your behalf. Please let me know immediately if there are any witnesses in your case that may have any favorable evidence. You have the right to the “assistance of counsel for [your] defense” under the Sixth Amendment. An attorney will review your case, prepare your case, advise you on how to proceed while your case is pending, and represent you in the trial, and may represent you in a post-trial proceeding. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you at public expense.
At your trial you have the right to present a defense, and utilize the services of an attorney to prepare your defense. You do not have to present a defense.
You have the right to remain silent. You cannot be compelled to testify in your own criminal case, pursuant to the Fifth Amendment. If you desire, you also have the right to testify. Although the choice of whether or not to testify is your choice, the factors are complex, and you should consult with me about this decision if your case proceeds to trial.
There may be other constitutional rights that may or may not be applicable in your case, such as the Fourth Amendment or the First Amendment. If you retain me, I will review your case, and discuss these rights with you if they apply to your circumstances. If you are curious whether a particular constitutional provision applies to your situation, please contact me and I will discuss the matter with you.
Please be aware, that the contents of this website are not intended to provide specific legal advice to any person on his or her individual, unique situation. Legal advice can only be given after I know all the facts and circumstances to your specific situation, and best advise you of how to proceed.