When you are facing criminal charges, you are likely going to be given the opportunity to take your case before a jury. It is imperative that the trial is considered fair, but this can often be seen as a broad term with many different meanings. Anyone facing criminal charges should be aware of their legal rights in Texas.
The good news is that you can turn to the Constitution to find out what it means to have a fair trial. This, especially the 6th Amendment and the 14th Amendment, outlines what defendants can count on when they are in the criminal justice system.
Right to an impartial jury
One important right is the right to have an impartial jury at the trial. This means that they shouldn’t have a preconceived idea about the case. It is sometimes difficult to do this because of the media coverage that comes with some cases. Judges might opt to combat this, at least in part, by sequestering the jurors so that they don’t have access to media reports or public opinion.
The jury should be a cross-section of the community so that they represent the defendant’s peers. None of them should have ties to the case, even if those are loose. For example, a law enforcement officer’s spouse shouldn’t be a juror on a case involving violence against a police officer.
Right to have and cross-examine witnesses
During the trial, each side has the right to call witnesses. The other side can cross-examine those witnesses. This is done in an effort to ensure that the person’s testimony is consistent and represents the truth. It also gives both sides a chance to have the person expand on what they are saying.
Right to due process
There are many different things that go into making sure that a defendant’s right to due process isn’t violated. Essentially, anything that isn’t fair to the defendant and that impacts the trial violates this right. For example, if a defendant has to wear an inmate uniform to a jury trial, it might make the person seem like they aren’t innocent.
Right to have legal counsel
No defendant has to go through the criminal justice system alone. You have the right to have an attorney represent you, and this attorney must present an adequate defense. It is best for defendants to meet with their chosen representation well in advance of every court hearing so that they can determine what defense strategy to use and prepare for the upcoming proceedings.