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Chapter 12 The Criminal Trial.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 12 The Criminal Trial."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 12 The Criminal Trial

2 The Right to be Competent at Trial
In order to stand trial, a criminal defendant must be considered mentally competent to understand the nature and extent of the legal proceedings. If defendants are considered mentally incompetent, their trials must be postponed until treatment renders them capable of participating in their own defense.

3 Legal Rights During Trial: The Right to Confront Witnesses
Provides for a control over hearsay evidence and allows the veracity of witnesses to be challenged Helps the accused in preparation of a defense to know who will present testimony for the state Does not necessarily mean a face-to-face confrontation

4 Legal Rights During Trial: Right to a Jury Trial
This right is guaranteed for all serious crime - not all crime Constitution does not require a 12 person jury, smaller juries may be permitted The Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments do not mandate a unanimous verdict in all cases

5 Legal Rights During Trial: Self Representation (Pro Se Proceedings)
“The person who represents himself has a fool for a client” Requires a competent, knowing, intelligent and voluntary waiver of counsel Requires the defendant to understand the charges

6 Legal Rights During Trial: Right to a Speedy Trial
Improve the credibility of the trial Reduce defendant anxiety Avoid pretrial publicity Avoid adverse effects on the ability to present a defense

7 Time Limits for Speedy Trials
Constitution does not specify a time limit Most states have adopted statutes which define reasonable limits Federal Speedy Trial Act of 1974 Provides time limits for various stages of the adjudication process Provision for fining defense counsels causing delays

8 Fair Trial vs. Free Press
At issue are competing constitutional and social interests The public’s right to know The defendant’s right to a fair process

9 What is “Fundamental Fairness”?
Trial before an impartial judge and jury In an environment of judicial restraint and orderliness With fair decision making

10 What isn’t Fair? Hostile courtroom crowd Improper pressure on witnesses Prejudicial behavior toward defendant Defendant wearing prison clothing Adverse pretrial publicity

11 Televisions in the Courtroom
Televisions are permitted in many states at the judge’s discretion Televisions, still cameras and video recorders are not permitted in federal courtrooms The legal community is divided over the advantages and disadvantages of televising criminal trials.

12 How Are Jury Trials Controlled?
State and federal laws control when a jury trial is available State and federal laws control what kind of a jury trial is available State and federal laws control what rules govern jury trials

13 The Voir Dire A process for selecting jurors who are unbiased and objective A pool of prospective jurors (the venire) is called to jury duty Through a process of random selection, prospective jurors are called for a case (the jury panel) Panel members are selected randomly to be questioned by the court, prosecution and defense Jurors and alternates are selected to try a case Successfully challenged jurors (dismissed from a case) are returned to the pool to finish their jury term

14 Challenge for Cause To determine if someone is unfit to serve Prosecution & defense want someone who is sympathetic to their side of the case Judge and both sides ask questions Number of these challenges is unlimited

15 Peremptory Challenges
Enable attorneys to excuse jurors for no particular reason or for undisclosed reasons Number of challenges are limited Can’t be used to eliminate jurors on the basis of race, ethnicity or gender

16 Jury Trials Job is to try the facts Size determined by law - normally 12 Decision normally by unanimous vote Proof beyond a reasonable doubt needed

17 What Do We Know About Juries?
Jury trials are longer and slow down the process Longer sentences are normally associated with jury trials rather than bench trials Men are normally more dominant in jury deliberation

18 What’s Known About Jury Voting?
1/3 of all cases only require one vote If a decision needs more than one vote, the decision of the majority of the first vote will likely end up being the decision on the last vote in most cases

19 Criminal Evidence Testimonial evidence from witnesses Real or physical evidence Circumstantial or indirect evidence

20 Instructions to the Jury
Judge’s responsibility Provides jury with information about the law Elements of the crime Evidence required for proof Burden of proof required Improper instructions are often the basis for an appeal

21 The Verdict Guilty Judge will normally set a date for sentencing and ask for a presentence investigation report Not guilty Defendant is free to leave Hung jury Case may be retried

22 Sentencing Normally after review of a pre-sentence investigation report in felony cases Rules applying to discretionary decisions by judges regarding the kind and severity of sentence vary among jurisdictions One of the most important and visible decisions by the judge

23 Right to Appeal Right to appeal is determined by law An appeal waives the right against double jeopardy Based upon some contended legal error “Plain error” vs. “harmless error” concept Court transcript serves as the basis for appellate review

24 Trial Reform The judiciary needs more minority and female members Use of DNA evidence needs to become commonplace in this century New communication technologies need to be utilized to improve the effectiveness of the trial Jury selection procedures and jury service during the conduct of a trial need to be improved Judge’s need to summarize the law and facts of a case before it goes to a jury must be examined

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