You may already be aware that the law gives you the right to a fair trial when you are facing criminal charges. Perhaps you even know that this right stems from the Constitution of the United States. Maybe you remember this from your school days, or you saw it on TV. Perhaps you experienced it in your previous encounters with the criminal justice system.
However, do you understand what it means to receive a fair trial? In fact, the Constitution does not actually use the words “fair trial,” yet the guarantees it makes for those facing prosecution provide a framework for fairness. Unfortunately, you may have to fight for these rights.
What does a fair trial look like?
While the right to have a fair trial may seem basic in the criminal justice system, there are many times when a negative outcome is the result of unfair practices during some phase of the trial. This miscarriage of justice may affect the rest of your life. If you do not understand the meaning of a fair trial, you may not recognize when someone is violating those rights, including these:
- Jury: The jurors who hear your case must have no bias against you or the circumstances of the alleged crime, and no stake in the way the case turns out. You may find it is not easy to seat an impartial jury if your case receives media attention.
- Confrontation: You have the right to know who has accused you of a crime and to challenge that person in court.
- Witnesses: In addition to challenging the prosecution’s evidence, you may present your own witnesses and appropriate evidence to defend yourself against the charges.
- Due process: The Constitution provides you with the expectation that authorities will respect your rights and allow you the best chance to fight the charges you face.
- Legal counsel: Maryland police and prosecutors may never deny you the right to speak with an attorney about your situation and to obtain advice about the most appropriate course of action for your best interests.
From the earliest stages of a criminal proceeding, even before your arrest, there are opportunities for authorities to deny or violate your rights. Unfairness involving even one of the elements listed above can result in devastating penalties and lifelong struggles. You must be able to stand up for yourself. One way to do this is by securing the representation of a legal professional who will aggressively advocate for you.