We’ve talked about different parts of the process from arrest to pretrial hearings. Today we will take it one step further and talk about the trial.
So you did not plead out. Well, now you’re going to trial. Unless you have done this a lot, you’re going to be more stressed than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Hope you don’t sweat too much or the jury is going to think you are guilty. Also, best if you are average size, have above-average looks, and don’t have any visible tattoos; oh, and that you wear glasses.
Now the prosecution goes first. They will lay all the evidence out in a passionate way to show how concerned they are and how deeply invested they are in this case. They will have expert testimony about how good this evidence is. It will probably have very little grounding in science, but the person presenting it will be very charismatic, have excellent people skills, and reassure the jury that this evidence is good. If you have a lot of money you’ll be able to hire your own expert. If you have a public defender they will likely put in for more money for your defense and more than likely get denied. Fair right?
If the case against you is particularly thin then they will focus on how much of a “bad” person you are. So the jury feels that they must lock you away. Just in case.
Now, wait a minute. I’m sure you’re saying that that can’t be the way it works and that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. However, in reality, the whole “better to let 100 guilty people go free rather than one innocent man go to prison” has become “let’s lock him up just for a little while just to be safe.” Just ask Tupac. His jury wanted to lock him up just in because he had “thug life” tattooed on his stomach.
After the prosecution has had their say and the idea is thoroughly embedded in the jury’s mind, it is your turn. Be prepared for much of the same. Now it’s your side trying to paint you as a good guy and show how weak the case is and how inept the police who investigated you were.
Unless it is a real open-and-shut case you will go home, while you wait, or if you could not make bail back to prison. If you don’t have your affairs in order, now is a good time to do that. If you’re in jail or do you have your affairs in order, work out a lot. Because this is going to be one of the longest days of your life and sleep is going to be a fickle thing.
Next time you’re in the courtroom you will get to hear your verdict. If you’re innocent you might be able to go home; guilty and you go to prison. If it ends in a hung jury, then you may have to do the whole thing all over again.
But two out of three and it’s over right? Wrong!!! If the jury does find you innocent then the prosecutor can always file different charges against you, which starts the process all over again. If they find you guilty then comes the Appeals.
You will try not to hang any hopes on these, but you probably will. Why? It is a chance to get out, a chance to clear your name, a chance to have a life again. But it is not a good chance or a quick one. Appeals take years to go through, and then the trauma might be relived in the form of a new trial.
Sounds like fun right? Remember you don’t have to have broken the law to go through this. People just have to suspect you did. The police don’t determine guilt or innocence; that is for the courts to decide. The police just arrest you, gather evidence against you, and convince the prosecutor that they got the right person.