Constitutional Cards

A right to fight

Constitutional Cards

When you are formally accused of a crime by the state, the U.S. Constitution and the Illinois State Constitution give you a list of rights as you go through the process. You have for instance the right to confront your accuser, the right to subpoena witnesses, right to trial by jury, etc. These procedural protections may be thought of as “constitutional cards” you are given. They have weight and heft because they represent a right to be an enormous

Truth # 1

Jury trials are very stressful for all concerned. They are high tension because one mistake in what you say or what a witness says can trigger a new trial and all your investment of time is for nothing. On top of this there are simply no guarantees with what a jury might do when they finally go back into deliberation.

Everyone can recall hearing of cases and being surprised at the outcome. Surprises do happen. This is the first of your constitutional cards.

Truth # 2

Jury trials are the absolute best way to figure out truth. While its true that jury trials are by no means perfect, they nevertheless give the parties a chance to “put their money where their mouth is” and subject themselves to cross-examination and 12 sets of eyes who are focused on the details of a case. The price for going so deep with the details is time. Time is a very scarce resource for the State Attorney’s office. There are only so many prosecutors in the office and only so many hours in the day and days in the workweek. For them to spend all this time worrying about your case means that is time they cannot spend elsewhere on other cases they have on their desk. For this reason, the state must be very careful about what cases they bring to trial. This is the second of your constitutional cards.

A couple different concepts help unlock criminal process and the real secret behind the system

The state has a built in incentive to offer a defendant a plea deal.
More plea offers = more time for them to spend on other cases.
They save man-hours (only so many they can spend in a week).
Jury trials are a huge production, they are the absolute best way to resolve factual issues but there is a cost to the system. They are the most inefficient way to resolve factual disputes. They consume time and energy resolving relatively narrow issues. This is one of the constitutional cards that a great lawyer can make work in your favor.

See the US Constitution here.

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