After your arrest for drug offenses, violent crimes, theft or other charges, you may have had many questions about the criminal process you were about to face. Whether your charges came from the prosecutor’s recommendation or a grand jury indictment, you may now be facing a criminal trial that could determine the course of your life for the foreseeable future.
You may understand that you have the right to a fair trial, but do you understand what that means? The Constitution does not explicitly name a fair trial as a right. In fact, the elements of a fair trial have evolved throughout the history of the criminal justice system. This is why it is wise to have a skilled and knowledgeable attorney on your side to ensure your trial proceeds without the violation of your rights.
Recognizing a fair trial
The words “fair trial” do not appear in the U.S. Constitution, but the document does provide specific safeguards for those who face criminal charges and who will be going to trial. Throughout history, the criminal trial system has refined these safeguards to make sure you have every opportunity to obtain justice. Those safeguards include the following:
- A speedy trial: You should not have to suffer through long, unreasonable delays before facing your charges in court.
- Due process: Those investigating and prosecuting you must follow the law and the established procedures to ensure your fair and equal treatment.
- Legal counsel: Authorities may not question, coerce or prosecute you without giving you ample opportunity to obtain legal advice and representation.
- Impartial jury: Traditionally, this means a group of 12 men and women who will not benefit from the outcome in your case and who have no biases against you.
- Confronting your accuser: You have the right to know and question anyone who accuses you of a crime or testifies against you.
- Defense strategy: It is your right to present your own evidence and witnesses to defend yourself against the charges you face.
These factors combined with local and Washington state laws ideally prevent any miscarriage of justice when you are defending yourself against criminal charges. Nevertheless, there is always the possibility that a violation of your rights will occur during the process. Having an attorney with substantial experience in criminal trials can be an advantage to you during this difficult and confusing time.