While the majority of criminal cases are resolved through the use of plea deals, there are still some that go to a trial. Defendants who opt to pursue this option should remember that they have specific rights in Massachusetts. Many are guaranteed by the United States Constitution and have been clarified and upheld by the United States Supreme Court.
If any of these rights aren't complied with, your case may be dismissed. In fact, if you notice any violations of your rights at any point from the arrest or investigation through the final disposition of the case, you should alert your attorney since this can be information that is vital to your defense strategy.
Right to have legal representation
You have the right to have an attorney work on your case and provide an adequate defense. The lawyer needs to know your side of the matter so that they can determine how that compares to the claims of the prosecutor. This lets them know where to start with your defense strategy. A great attorney recognizes that a defense strategy is more than just winning a case, but setting the defendant up for the best situation available to them after the fact.
Right to have an impartial jury
If your case will go through a jury trial, you need to think carefully about what is going to happen. One of the first steps is that a jury is chosen. These individuals must be the defendant's peers, which means that they are members of the same general community without favoring any specific population. They must represent a cross section.
The jury must be impartial, which means they don't have preconceived thoughts about the guilt or innocence of the defendant. They also shouldn't have close ties to the case. For example, a paramedic's adult child shouldn't sit on a jury for a case that involves an alleged violent attack on a paramedic.
Right to call and cross examine witnesses
The defense and the prosecution have the right to call witnesses to the stand during a trial. They also have the right to cross-examine those individuals about what they are claiming on the stand. There are specific laws and procedures that apply to these situations, and these sometimes conflict with a person's rights. This is a precarious circumstance that would require you to have someone on your team who can defend your fundamental legal rights.