There are several steps between the time someone gets arrested and the verdict hearing. The Sixth Amendment protects the rights of an arrested person.
The Constitution states that you have the right to a public trial. It further states that you have the right to a trial by a jury of your peers. The Constitution further states that your trial should be ‘Without Delay.’
With all these provisions, you should expect a speedy trial. The judge, however, needs to hear the jury’s verdict. But,
How Long Can Jury Deliberations Last?
There is no time limit on jury deliberations. The jurors can take as much time before agreeing on whether someone is guilty.
The process can take minutes in simple cases. Where cases are complex, the decision can take months. The Constitution states that the trial should happen ‘Without Delay.’
Rights Of The Accused
The Constitution protects the rights of people accused of criminal and civil wrongs. The sixth amendment protects these rights.
Note that the rights of the accused differ from Miranda rights. The Miranda right protects the accused against self-incrimination. The Sixth Amendment is the rights of the accused when they are on trial.
All accused persons have the right to legal representation. If you wish to have an attorney present, the court must allow it.
You can choose to hire your attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, the state should provide one for you. These public defendants get paid by the state to represent the citizens in court.
You can choose to waiver your right to an attorney.
Some accused persons choose to represent themselves in court. The court can reject the waiver and provide an attorney. It happens in cases where the court has reasons to believe that the accused is incompetent.
The court will exercise judgment to determine whether you qualify for self-representation. You might be competent to stand trial, but not for self-representation.
Any accused person has the right to trial by a jury. Note that there are limitations to the right in petty cases.
These are offenses that carry relatively light sentences or fines. It includes contesting speeding fines, jaywalking, non-criminal negligence, etc.
Cases involving minors such as child abuse, do not require jury representation. Serious cases like murder and sensitive sexual assault cases do not require juries to be present.
If the nature of the offense requires a jury, there have to be 12 jurors. The jurors must be cross-examined before the case to see if they are fit to serve.
The jurors must meet the legal criteria. The criteria differ depending on the state.
You have the right to a public trial. Members of the public should attend or witness the trial.
You have the right to request that no one be present during your trial. If the court has enough evidence and reasons to believe that:
- A public trial will undermine your right to a fair trial.
- Nothing else apart from closure can guarantee a fair trial
You will have a closed trial. The government can also request a closed trial in offenses where the state is the accuser.
It happens in cases where a public trial would overwhelmingly serve the accuser’s interest. It is also necessary to respect and protect the court’s values.
All accused folks have the right to a speedy trial. It includes the duration from your arrest to your arraignment.
The trial should also start and end on time. The Supreme Court has guidelines for determining whether a speedy trial isn’t upheld. Four scenarios violate your right to a speedy trial. They are:
- Why the delay exists: The only sufficient reason for a prosecution to delay proceedings is to get a key witness. The prosecution should not delay gaming the system for their benefit.
- Delay duration: The delay duration gets weighed according to the seriousness of the offense. Delays in prosecuting petty crimes do not impact the outcome as much as delays in serious crimes.
- The outcome of the delay: Some delays favor the accused. In this case, they can’t claim that the delay violated their trial rights.
- It may be acceptable if the delay doesn’t affect the defendant too much.
Any accused person has got notified about the nature of the accusations. The accused must know what the charges are and why the charges are before them.
Informing the accused is important. It helps avoid situations where the accused is on trial multiple times for the same crime.
The accusations must be concise and not ambiguous. It should contain the entire statute the accused allegedly violated.
You have the right to confront anyone acting as a witness to the alleged crime or civil violation. You can challenge the witness’s credibility after the cross-examination as part of your defense.
You are to point out gaps in the witness statement. You can also point out statements that are contentious to the facts.
The defendant can petition the court to avail a witness unwilling to testify. The court may compel a witness to testify and provide useful facts to the case.
How do the states determine who serves on the jury?
The selection process is random. Usually, states select members by picking names from the voter registry.
People on the voter registry are more likely to meet the requirements to serve on the jury. You may also get selected if you are on a registry for eligible drivers. If you hold a valid license, you may serve as a juror.
What Happens If You Don’t Show Up For Jury Duty?
Failing to turn up for jury duty is an offense punishable by law. Many states classify it as a misdemeanor.
Depending on how many times you fail to show up, you could get hefty fines. The penalty varies depending on the state.
In California, you could get fined up to 1000 dollars per session if you fail to show up.
You could also be found in contempt of court. It carries fines and jail time of up to five days.
The judge may issue an Order to Show. You will go before the judge and explain why you failed to turn up for jury duty.
Who Isn’t Eligible For Jury Duty?
Not everyone can serve on a jury. You have to fulfill minimum requirements before serving on a jury. They are:
1. Convicted felons
You can not serve on a jury in the United States if you are a felon. Courts are conscious of who they let in and allow to serve. A convicted felon lacks the moral threshold to serve in any capacity in a court of law.
2. Regarding mental and physical disabilities
You cannot serve on a jury if you have a mental condition that affects your judgment. Jurors should be able to exercise rational judgment.
The court will exclude you if you have a physical disability that hinders your serving capacity.
Only citizens of the United States can serve on a jury. The Constitution states that jurors should be members of the accused’s community. It means that people living out of the state cannot serve as jurors.
Jurors should be residents of the state and citizens of the country.
4. Less than 18 years
Minors cannot serve on a jury. They are not old enough to exercise good judgment to determine case outcomes. Once you reach the age of majority, you are eligible to serve on a jury.
5. Members who hold public office
People who hold public offices get excluded from jury duty. These are members of the House of Representatives, senators, council members, etc. They cannot hold public office because of the nature of their jobs.
6. Police Department and Fire Department officials
Police officers and fire department personnel are ineligible for jury duty. They always have to be ready to respond to real emergencies. They are therefore not allowed to serve in the court system.
7. Active-duty military personnel
Like PD and FD officials, people in the armed forces cannot serve jury duty. They have to be ready to get called into action at any time.
8. People with a vested interest in the trial outcome
People with interest in the case can’t exercise good judgment.
The Constitution guarantees the right to a fair trial. It also stipulates that you have the right to a jury trial of your peers. The trial should also be public, except in extenuating circumstances. The Constitution also specifies that your trial shall place ‘Without Delay.’
Several factors affect the deliberation duration. In simple cases where the evidence is overwhelmingly incriminating, jurors reach the verdict in minutes.
In cases where the facts are a bit unclear, the deliberation takes long. The jury’s deliberations are not time-limited. The jurors can deliberate for as long as they wish before deciding whether someone is guilty or not.
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