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What do people need to know about the criminal justice system?

There are many misconceptions about the criminal justice system that seem to circulate around. For the men and women who are facing charges, making sure that they have their facts straight is imperative.

Some of the biggest misunderstandings have to do with the process itself. If you are facing criminal charges, here are some important points for you to know:

Do all defendants have a right to a jury trial?

Not all defendants have the right to a jury trial. Some cases, such as parole violations, are heard in a bench trial before a judge. Additionally, any criminal case that doesn’t involve at least six months in jail won’t be eligible for a jury trial. Since felonies typically come with a possible incarceration of one year or more, you will be able to have a jury trial for a felony.

What is the purpose of a defense?

The purpose of a defense is to combat the prosecution’s claims. In criminal law, the burden of proof falls on the prosecution. The defendant is presumed innocent until the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime. This means your defense can either try to poke holes in that case or you could theoretically simply say nothing and rely on the prosecution’s inability to show you are guilty up to the necessary standard.

What is the purpose of the prosecution’s case?

The purpose of the prosecution’s case is to show the jurors that you committed the crime without the possibility of it having been someone else who did it. They have to remove all possible doubt about your innocence when they present the case against you.

Source: FindLaw, “Criminal Procedure FAQ,” accessed May 04, 2018

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