When Maryland residents are arrested, they will immediately face a number of crucial decisions. An initial hearing will happen rather quickly, at which point the court will set a number of other important dates in the case and likely determine whether or not the defendant will secure their own lawyer.
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees defendants the right to a speedy trial before a jury. The “speedy” aspect of this right means that the authorities will be violating your constitutional rights if they take too long to bring your case to trial. The “before a jury” aspect is a little more complicated.
The right to a trial by jury applies to serious crimes, so many people facing misdemeanor or other relatively lighter charges will not have the option of requesting a jury. Defendants facing more serious charges will have the option of requesting a jury to decide their case.
Note that the request is optional. It is the defendant’s right to request a jury trial, and the defendant can waive that right and have the case heard by a judge without a jury. This is known as a bench trial, and it may be the better option under some circumstances. Juries can be unpredictable and influenced by emotional appeals, while judges are professionals, and therefore tend to be somewhat more reliable when they weigh the evidence before them.
There are many decisions to consider when preparing a criminal defense. A skilled defense lawyer can help you understand your options and choose a strategy.