In Louisiana, it’s not uncommon for criminal defendants to face punishments that are disproportionate to the crimes they’re accused of. This is especially true in cases where defendants get denied their right to a trial. In other cases, they experience delays in their criminal proceedings that make it nearly impossible to get a fair trial. The good news is that there are laws in place to protect your right to a trial.
What does the law say?
The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees criminal defendants the right to a speedy and public trial. This right is meant to protect defendants from getting dragged through the criminal justice system for an extended period of time. It also ensures that they have a chance to defend themselves in front of a judge or jury.
On top of that, the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments guarantee criminal defendants the right to due process. This means that they’re entitled to a fair and impartial trial.
How are these rights violated?
One of the most common ways that these rights be violated is through plea bargaining. In plea bargaining, defendants and their criminal defense teams agree to plead guilty to a crime in exchange for a lighter sentence. This process often happens without the defendant ever stepping foot in a courtroom.
Plea bargains can also help prosecutors avoid cases that are weak or have little evidence. In these cases, defendants might get coerced into pleading guilty even if they are innocent. This is because they receive the choice of either going to trial and risking a harsher sentence or pleading guilty and getting a lighter sentence.
Another way that these rights can get violated is through sentencing enhancements. Sentencing enhancements are when a defendant gets a harsher sentence because of the crime they’re accused of. For example, a defendant might get a longer sentence if the crime they’re accused of is considered a hate crime.
If your right to a trial gets violated, you might be able to get your conviction overturned. This is because the Constitution guarantees criminal defendants the right to a fair and impartial trial. All you need to do is file an appeal and show that your rights were violated.