Somewhere in the back of your mind, you may have a memory of sitting in a high school civics lesson while the teacher explained the Bill of Rights, which are the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Among those amendments is the Sixth, which your teacher may have summarized as granting the right to a fair trial for anyone accused of a crime.
While the Sixth Amendment may have had little significance in your high school years, it is critical now if you are facing or have recently been a defendant in a criminal trial. What is fair to you may not be fair to someone else. That is why the legal system looks to the guidelines provided in the Constitution whenever someone comes to trial. If you are facing a criminal trial, you can expect certain safeguards to ensure you receive a fair trial.
Defining a fair trial
While the Sixth Amendment does not use the words "fair trial," Americans have come to accept those guarantees in the amendment as defining fairness for someone accused of committing a crime. Those guarantees include the following:
- You have the right to a jury comprised of people who live in the jurisdiction where the alleged crime occurred.
- You have the right to a jury whose members have no prejudices against you and no personal interest in the outcome of the case.
- You have the right to see those who have accused you of the offense with which the prosecutor has charged you and to hear the evidence they have against you.
- You have the right to present witnesses who will testify on your behalf.
- You have the right to expect the prosecution to comply with the legal limitations of their power and to respect your civil and constitutional rights.
Another right you have that may be instrumental in protecting your Sixth Amendment rights is the right to have quality legal counsel throughout the process. Your Texas attorney should represent you to the best of his or her ability and seek your best interests when making any decisions about the case. If you have recently been convicted in a trial you believe was unfair or you are facing a criminal trial, you would be wise to reach out for a skilled and aggressive attorney who will fight for your rights.