Under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, criminal defendants in New York and the rest of the country are afforded the right to an attorney. For most criminal charges, the amendment also grants them the right to a speedy trial with an impartial jury.
Criminal defendants must have their trials for their alleged crimes commence within a reasonable amount of time after they have been arrested. Before they are convicted, they have the constitutional right to be tried by a jury, which is required to submit a guilty verdict only if guilt has been established beyond a reasonable doubt.
Even though most states have legislation that establishes a set time in which a trial must occur after charges have been filed, the question of whether the trial can be considered speedy as defined under the Sixth Amendment depends upon the factors of the case and the reasons the trial incurred any delays. In the most severe situations, a court may be compelled to dismiss the case if it determine any delay between the arrest and trial was unnecessary and harmful to the defendant.
At trial, a jury should consist of a cross-section of the defendant’s community. The jury’s role is to evaluate the evidence presented against the defendant and determine guilt or innocence. The jurors have to agree in finding the defendant not guilty or guilty. Without a unanimous verdict and with a jury that is unable to deliberate any further, the case may have to be retried or dismissed.
Individuals who have been charged with crimes should speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as practicable. The attorney can assist in ensuring that the jury is impartial through questioning prospective members at voir dire.