Criminal Law Newsletter

A DEFENDANT’S RIGHT TO TESTIFY

Although a defendant has a right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the defendant also has a constitutional right to testify at his or her trial for a criminal offense. The defendant’s right to testify includes his or her right to present a defense.

CONTINUANCES DURING TRIAL

A continuance is an adjournment or a postponement of a case. A continuance may be sought by either the prosecution or the defense in a criminal case. The continuance may be sought before a trial or during the trial.

TERMS & CONDITIONS OF PROBATION

A trial judge generally has discretion whether to grant probation to a defendant. The trial judge also has discretion to determine the terms and conditions of the defendant’s probation. Only the trial judge that presided over the defendant’s trial has the authority to determine the terms and conditions of the defendant’s probation, unless the trial judge transfers jurisdiction of the defendant’s case to another court. Although a jury may recommend probation for a defendant, the jury does not have the authority to determine the terms and conditions of the defendant’s probation.

GRAND JURY PROCEDURE

When a grand jury is impaneled to investigate criminal activity, one member of the grand jury is selected as a foreman. The foreman is responsible for presiding over the grand jury. A quorum is necessary for the grand jury to proceed. Nine grand jurors is the minimum for a quorum when there are 12 grand jurors. If the grand jury acts without a quorum, the proceedings are void. Any indictment that is issued by the grand jury without a quorum is subject to being dismissed or quashed.

A DEFENDANT’S RIGHT TO COMPULSORY PROCESS

A defendant who is charged with a criminal offense has the right to compulsory process under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The right to compulsory process means the right to obtain witnesses in the defendant’s favor, which witnesses are physically and mentally capable of testifying regarding events that they personally observed.

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