If you are facing criminal charges for a violent crime, your primary concern is getting a fair trial. Missouri police and prosecutors are gathering and examining evidence against you, and building a case that may be designed to end with your incarceration. However, the U.S. Constitution provides some safeguards to ensure authorities do not take advantage of their power or your vulnerability as a defendant.
While you may know that you have the right to a fair trial, you may not be certain what that means and what the Constitution specifically says about it. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that the term “fair trial” is nowhere in the Constitution, and it is actually something the criminal justice system has developed throughout history.
What does the Constitution say?
Many of us have a vague recollection of a history teacher talking about the Constitutional amendments that protect the rights of those accused of crimes. These amendments outline general concepts, but the violation of any of these protections can jeopardize the fairness of your trial. Your rights include the following:
- An impartial jury: Tradition has established the notion of 12 jury members, but more importantly, those jurors must have no stake in the outcome and no biases for or against either side.
- Your accuser: You have the right to hear the accusations against you from your accuser and to cross examine those who present evidence against you.
- Your defense: You may present your own witnesses and evidence to support your defense against the charges.
- Due process: You should expect your criminal proceedings to follow the formal procedure in place, and you should be able to rely on that procedure to protect you from any unfairness or violation of your rights.
- An attorney: From the moment of your arrest, you have the right to the services of an attorney who will provide you with adequate representation.
Adequate representation includes carefully examining the details of your case and challenging any evidence that may be inadmissible.
You will want to understand all your options and the most appropriate course of action for your circumstances. When you are facing criminal charges that could result in severe penalties, including the potential of years behind bars if convicted, you want to be certain you have every possible advantage. Seeking an aggressive and dedicated attorney is the first step to reaching your goals.