If you are facing criminal charges, you may eventually decide to take your case to trial. Unless you have been through a trial before, the entire experience can be extremely intimidating and confusing, on top of the fact that your future will be decided by the outcome. To give you some idea of what to expect, a Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby offers some trial tips for defendants.
Jury Trial vs. Bench Trial
Before discussing trial tips, it is important to understand what type of trial to expect. The U.S. Constitution guarantees an accused several important rights, including the right to a trial by jury. That right can be waived however, if you decide to enter into a plea agreement with the State of Tennessee. You will also need to waive your right to a jury trial if you elect to participate in a bench trial, also referred to as a trial by judge. In a jury trial, the judge presides over the trial and issues legal rulings when necessary; however, the jury decides the issue of guilt. In a bench trial, there is no jury. Instead, the judge decides the issue of guilt.
Tips for the Criminal Defendant
Regardless of whether a judge or jury is deciding your fate, the prospect of going through a criminal trial can be daunting. Like anything in life, being prepared and knowing what to expect can help lower your anxiety and stress. With that in mind, consider the following tips:
- Be honest with your attorney. When preparing for trial, be honest with your attorney. The best criminal defense lawyer cannot help you if you lie or leave out important information. Moreover, you are sabotaging your own defense if you allow your attorney to be surprised by testimony or evidence presented at trial.
- Listen to your attorney’s advice. As the accused, many important decisions made relating to your defense, such as the decision to testify or not, are ultimately yours to make; however, you should really listen to your attorney’s advice before making decisions.
- Do not avoid eye contact with the judge or jury. Defendants often do not know how to interact with the judge or jury. It’s a tricky issue. You do not want to avoid eye contact entirely; however, you also do not want to appear to be glaring at anyone or be fixated on anyone. To the extent possible, try to act naturally.
- Pay attention and take notes. Your attorney is responsible for defending you, but you can do a lot to help during a trial. Specifically, you can listen and take notes. Do not interrupt your attorney in the middle of the trial no matter how important you think something may be. Instead, have a pen and paper ready and take notes. If something is THAT important and is time-sensitive, write it down on the paper and quietly get your attorney’s attention when there is a pause in testimony.
- Keep your emotions in check. This can be the hardest part for many defendants – especially if you have been wrongly accused. It is critical, however, that you are as calm as possible throughout the trial. That does not mean you cannot show any emotion. It just means you need to keep your emotions under control, especially negative emotions such as anger or resentment. If a witness is lying on the stand, or you feel angry for another reason, do not act out. Instead, make a note for your attorney who can then address the issue properly. The last thing you want to do in a criminal trial is to give the judge or jury the impression that you cannot control your anger.
Contact the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding a criminal trial in Tennessee, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.
- Avoid These Common Mistakes When Administering a Trust - February 27, 2024
- What Is a Motion to Suppress in a Tennessee Criminal Prosecution? - January 23, 2024
- Incapacity Planning: Why It Should Be Part of Your Comprehensive Estate Plan - January 9, 2024