As a Criminal Defense Attorney, I am prepared to take your case to a trial. Every United States citizen whether in Pittsburgh, Westmoreland County, Beaver County, and Washington County is guaranteed a trial if he/she is charged with a crime. This right comes from the United States Constitution and is also enumerated in the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Who Qualifies for Trial?
Technically, anyone who is charged with a crime has a right to a trial. Realistically, very few cases ever make it to the trial stage. Most minor cases are disposed of at the Preliminary Hearing. Specific charges may qualify for diversionary programs, like Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. Most other charges are dismissed or plead out after formal arraignment and before trial.
What Happens Before You are Ready for Trial?
As I just stated, very few criminal cases make it to trial. One factor that may work into this is that the process is so drawn out that most Defendants and Prosecutors decide to get rid of cases before the trial date. After being charged, you have your Preliminary Hearing. From there, if the case is held for court, or you waive your hearing, you will be formally arraigned.
[pullquote_right]Until jury deliberations, you retain the control to decide how your case will end.[/pullquote_right]
At Formal Arraignment, the Prosecutor formally charges you with a crime or multiple crimes. You will also receive your Pre-trial Conference date. There, you will have an opportunity to speak with the Prosecutor and pick a trial date. Within so many days of trial, you will have an opportunity to present motions. Only after all of those steps, taking months or years to complete, will you have your day in court.
What are Your Trial Options?
You actually have two options for trial: Bench and Jury. A Bench trial is one that is in front of a judge. That means no jury is present. Each side presents its case to the judge, and the judge makes the decision of guilt or innocence. Bench trials are faster and may be better for complex cases or cases with a lot of emotional appeal. An experienced Criminal Defense Attorney will be able to help you determine which is best for your case.
Jury trials are trials presented to members of the community. In Allegheny, Westmoreland, Beaver, and Washington counties, a criminal jury is made up of twelve individuals randomly chosen from the public and picked by you and the Prosecutor. Most courts across the US use twelve people to make up a jury. Picking a jury in a Criminal Case is incredibly important and takes experience to do. Jury trials may be best when the Prosecutor does not have a lot of evidence or your are a sympathetic defendant.
What Happens on the Day of Trial?
After you have made it through all of the other steps of the criminal process, it is finally time for trial. If you decide to have a bench trial, the Prosecution will start with Opening statements. You will have an opportunity to also present an opening statement. Then each side will present evidence. Finally, both sides will close with closing arguments. The judge will then determine a verdict.
[pullquote_right]Criminal Trials are very complicated and serious matters.[/pullquote_right]
If you choose a jury trial, the process takes a bit longer. First, you must pick your jury. This may be a LONG process that involves questioning each member for a pool of jurors, striking certain jurors, and picking others to make up the final twelve that will hear the criminal case. Then each side commences with opening statements, presentation of evidence, and closing arguments. The jury must then deliberate on the evidence and decide whether you are guilty or innocent of each crime charged. Jury deliberations may take one hour or four days. Deliberations will continue until the jury reaches a verdict or determines that they are unable to decide.
What Happens After a Verdict?
If the judge or jury determines that you are not guilty, you get to go home if there are no other issues pending after your trial. If you are found guilty, you may appeal your case up to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.
Criminal Trials are very complicated and serious matters. Until jury deliberations, you retain the control to decide how your case will end. For most of the process, you may choose to go to trial or plead to lesser offenses. Once the jury or judge enters deliberations, you are passing the control to someone else. Therefore, it is very important to have an experienced attorney on your side to present your case. While no attorney is able to provide you a guarantee, trial attorneys are trained to present the proper evidence in a persuasive manner.
If you need an attorney who is not afraid to go to trial, give me a call. Once on your case, I will keep you updated on your case all of your options. I will advise you throughout the process and never push you to plead your case when you want to go to trial. If want to take your case to trial, I will fight for you. Call (412) 209-0657 and ask for Matthew Becker.