The vast majority of police interactions and criminal charges are settled long before trial and never see the inside of a courtroom. Those that do, however, can be long, complicated affairs. From setting a trial date to deciding who can testify and choosing a jury, criminal trials can be confusing, but they don't need to be.
Here are seven of the biggest questions concerning criminal trials, and where to go for answers:
Figuring out whether any criminal case will go to trial will depend on a variety of factors. Using a DUI case as an example, whether it goes to trial can depend on how much evidence the prosecution has, whether the prosecutor offers a plea bargain, and whether you think it's a good deal.
In some ways, the criminal justice system treats juvenile defendants the same as adults. In other ways, it doesn't. While juveniles don't have a constitutional right to a jury trial like adult, there are some cases where they can get one.
You've probably heard you have the right to a speedy trial, but what does "speedy" really mean? How long could you be sitting in jail waiting to go to trial? And, like any other right, it can be invoked or waived. So how do you decide?
You also have the right to a trial by an impartial jury, but like the right to a speedy trial, it can be waived. So if you're not going to be judged by a jury, who decides if you're guilty? And is that a better option than judgment by your peers?
Here's an in-depth look at how a bench trial (where a judge determines guilt) compares to a jury trial. Figuring out which is right for you will depend on your criminal history and the circumstances of your case.
You may have heard it asked in relation to high-profile criminal cases -- can he or she get a fair and impartial jury in such-and-such county? Moving a criminal trial is rare, but it can be done in specific circumstances.
Want a do-over? Like moving a trial, getting a new trial after the verdict is a rare occurrence and normally reserved for cases of extreme prosecutorial misconduct or ineffectiveness of defense counsel.
Every criminal case is unique, and whether it goes to trial may be up to you. You don't have to make that decision alone, nor should you. If you've been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.