How to defend a case in front of a jury
If you are charged with a crime in Pennsylvania there is a good chance you may end up in front of a jury. This article will tell you what you need to know in order to present the strongest defense against the government at trial. You do not want to go to trial without knowing what to expect and without a trial lawyer that knows how to win.
A jury trial is a fundamental right in our system of justice. There are many popular crime based movies and television shows. The idea of being charged with a crime and having your peers decide your guilt or innocence is something that grips our psyche. Did he or didn’t he – that simple phrase has sparked debate in lunch rooms all over our country. We watched the OJ Simpson case on national television for 9 months. We remember the lawyers and the drama of it all – “If it don’t fit you must acquit.” We waited with breathless anticipation for the jury to return their verdict. The nation was divided along racial lines as the verdict of “not guilty” was read out loud in open court.
But what does a jury trial mean when it’s you whose guilty or innocence is on the line?
A jury trial is the process by which the government seeks to convict you of whatever criminal offense they contend you violated. Whether it’s a violent assault, robbery, burglary, DUI or theft, the jury trial process is the same. Both you and the government will give an opening and closing statement. Witnesses are called to testify by either side and will be subject to cross examination to test his/her credibility. The cross examination is the staple of any jury trial – a witness’s potential bias or memory loss may be tested by a vigorous examination. A witness whose credibilty is tested on the witness stand may be fatal to the government’s case. It takes years of experience to master the skill of cross examination. In many cases, an acquittal is dependent on the credibility of the government’s witnesses and especially in cases of “he said, she said”.
You, as the accused, may also be asked to take the witness stand in your own defense; however, because our Constitution includes the right to remain silent and presumption of innocence, you may also decide not to. Depending on what the charge is and what the evidence is expected to show, it may be in your best interest NOT to take the witness stand. Remember, you don’t have to prove your innocence – the government has to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Call our office today to discuss your trial rights and begin preparing your defense strategy today. 717.717.435.8830.