If you are facing a federal crime, an experienced attorney will be able to fight for your freedom. Federal crimes begin with an indictment, followed by an arraignment and investigation. As the trial progresses, it will either be a jury trial or a bench trial.
The two types of trials, while similar, can be extremely different. Most criminal trials are jury trials, in an effort to protect a defendant’s rights. A jury’s purpose is to hear the evidence and decide whether that evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant did, in fact, commit a crime.
In a federal trial, the government presents its case and a defendant may present evidence to refute the government’s case. Whether a defendant presents evidence or not, the jury must decide if the government has sufficient evidence to prove the defendant guilty.
While most federal trials are jury trials, sometimes a defendant waives his or her right to a jury trial and is tried in a bench trial. In such a trial, a judge decides the facts and then rules on the verdict. In both types of trials, a judge is there to make sure correct legal standards are followed.
In the case of a jury trial, the jurors must be selected before the trial can proceed. A selection of citizens is asked to appear and be screened as possible jurors. Jurors are asked questions to help determine if they would be able to judge a case fairly and attorneys may ask the judge to excuse jurors they think may show bias, which is known as challenges for cause.
Attorneys may also request the judge excuse a set number of jurors without any justification, which is known as peremptory challenges.