Your rights in a criminal trial
If you have decided to take your criminal case to trial in California, you have likely decided that you have a chance to “beat the case” and avoid a conviction. This is a calculated decision that almost all criminal defendants must reach: Is the prosecution’s case weak enough for me to have a chance at trial? Or should I try to reach a “plea bargain”? When it comes to a criminal trial, there are certain rights that must be protected at all times which can, in some cases, give defendants a better chance at success.
Your constitutional rights
For starters, all criminal defendants in America have the right to have an attorney to represent them in the case and at trial. This can obviously be a big boost for almost everyone, as most people do not know the “ins and outs” of the criminal justice system the way an attorney does. Attorneys can advise their clients and advocate zealously for them as well.
Another important right is that criminal defendants cannot be forced to testify against themselves in their criminal cases. This is the commonly-referred to right “against self-incrimination.” This is proper because, as we all know, a defendant is supposed to enjoy the privilege of being considered “innocent until proven guilty.” The burden is on the prosecution to prove every element of the criminal charges in the case.
Yet another important right is, if a jury trial is an option, the right to have a jury of “peers” hear the evidence and decide the case. Typically, this means that the jury members will be selected from the defendant’s community.