Martin & Kent, L.L.C. Martin & Kent, L.L.C.

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Criminal defendants have right to a speedy jury trial

Packed court dockets and crowded jails could lead to delays in processing cases in Illinois. The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution anticipated the problem of people potentially languishing behind bars without a conviction and installed guarantees to a speedy trial decided by an impartial jury.

Although a prosecutor might have legitimate reasons to put off the start of a trial depending on the nature of the case, lengthy delays might be vulnerable to challenges from the defendant. Excessive delays that cannot be justified might result in a judge dismissing the case.

When a defendant goes to trial, the jury should consist of 12 people who represent various aspects of the community. To produce a guilty verdict, all jurors must be in agreement and free from reasonable doubts about the defendant's guilt. When a jury cannot reach total agreement, a mistrial results. This could cause the case to be dismissed entirely or started all over again.

The constitution also grants people a right to legal representation when charged with most crimes. People dealing with criminal charges could speak with an attorney to gain a greater understanding of how criminal law could influence the case. They could learn about the potential penalties of a conviction and get an opinion about the strength of the prosecution's case. This information could allow them to make an informed choice between going to trial or accepting a plea bargain. A defense attorney could reach out to the prosecutor and attempt to negotiate a lenient sentence with a plea deal. If the defendant chooses to go to trial instead, an attorney could strive to select jurors that are unbiased.

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