If you are being criminal prosecuted and are pleading not guilty, your case may be heading to trial. Under the Sixth Amendment, defendants have a right to a speedy, public and fair trial before they are convicted. At trial, evidence, arguments and testimony will be presented to a judge and/or jury. Then, they will decide on whether you are guilty or innocent. In most criminal cases, your trial will be a jury trial, meaning the jury will come to a verdict on your guilt or innocence. There are certain cases where a judge alone will produce the verdict however this is less common than a jury trial in criminal cases. With a jury trial, a panel of jurors, selected from the community, will have to unanimously decide on whether you are guilty or innocent. In many ways, a jury trial is a good way for fair and reasonable verdicts to be made. However, jurors are generally everyday people with little or no knowledge of law. If you are going to bring your case to trial, it is important to at least consult with an experienced trial attorney. A skilled trial attorney will be able to work with the jury in a way that can be in your favor. A good attorney can be persuasive and convincing in the face of a jury and in most cases, is well worth the investment. The jury will essentially hold your future in their hands. This may worry you but know that a criminal trial has many steps that allow the two parties, the defendant and the prosecution, to make their arguments and produce witnesses and evidence. This means there are several places where jurors can be influenced either way. Now, it isn't easy to influence a jury in any direction. It will take strategy and skill of argument. The first impression of you and your case the jury will have is from hearing the opening statements. Here, each side, beginning with the prosecution, will provide an orientating statement regarding the case. You cannot just wing this. Work with an attorney on crafting one that will keep the playing field even. The last thing you want is for your opening statement to turn the jury against you. Next, evidence and witnesses may be produced. Knowing just what evidence to provide and what witnesses to call can give you the best chance at a strategic defense. As a criminal defendant, you may benefit from a good character witness or someone who can attest to your innocence. A jury is likely to take what a witness says seriously, so choose carefully. Similarly, make sure your evidence is clear. Remember, a typical juror is not trained in criminal law. Evidence will need to clearly demonstrate your innocence or at least cast doubt on the prosecution's argument. Then, closing arguments will be given. Again, do not just wing this. This is your last chance at convincing the jury. Make sure you have a skilled trial attorney to assist you in this matter. The closing argument should review all the elements of the case in a way that both challenges what the prosecution says and demonstrates your innocence.
Keep in mind that jury trials are generally an effective and fair process in US criminal law. When a judge decides on your case, you risk putting all your eggs in one basket. Having a jury trial is an opportunity to convince a group of people of your innocence. Don't chance your future on a self-prepared defense. If you take your case to trial, you will be best served being represented by a skilled trial attorney. A jury is a group of regular people, like you and me, and can be convinced like you and me as well. If you are strategic about your case and have quality representation, a jury trial gives you a chance to have a reasonable group of people see things your way. On the other hand, juries have been known to have biases and prejudices, even though they were selected to not have these. Make sure you speak to an attorney about your chances at trial; a jury trial may or may not be in your best interests.
If you or a loved one are facing a criminal trial, call experienced Visalia area criminal defense trial attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. Attorney Martens has brought over 50 cases to trial and will not be afraid to take your case all the way. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can listen to your story and help you prepare a strategic defense for your trial, giving you the best possible chance at success. Contact our Visalia or Hanford offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.