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Is the Right to a Jury Trial in Criminal Cases Dead?

The right to a trial by a jury is guaranteed in the United States and the Florida Constitutions. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense, as stated in the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The right to a jury trial is what separates the people from the government. The jury trial system provides the people with an equal playing field, where members of the community can evaluate the government’s evidence, weigh the law, and render a decision as to the person’s innocence or guilt. The right to a jury trial is sacred and fundamental to American Jurisprudence. Juries will sooner acquit a member of their own community, then an outsider, because of the common interest the jurors and the accused enjoy. The Founding Fathers understood this and promised in the Constitution, the contract between the people and the government, that this right to a jury trial of people from your community who will stand tall against the government, needed to be codified, so that it was never whittled away by corrupt government officials: including Judges!

I am witnessing more and more judges in Florida forcing criminal defendants to accept plea agreements, as opposed to allowing defendants to exercise their right to a fair jury trial. I believe this is because judges do not like to make tough evidentiary and legal decisions during trial, which may lead to Appellate review and cases being overturned on appeal and, therefore, tarnishing the judge’s political chances for re-election. Is it okay for a judge to involve themselves into plea negotiations with the defendant and the Government? I believe the answer is yes. The Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure allow for a judge to either accept or deny a plea agreement as between the parties: the accused and the government. But this power of judicial oversight is narrowly limited and pigeon holed only into discretion to prevent injustices. For instance, a defendant who allegedly committed petit theft should not receive 5 years of probation, because the maximum penalty for the crime of petit theft in Florida is one-year. So, a negotiated plea outside of the maximum sentence should be overseen by the judge and prohibited.

As a criminal defense lawyer, I have witnessed bad prosecutors who say during plea negotiations “take the plea deal now” because if the defendant exercises his or her right to trial and is found guilty the sentence will double or be the maximum if the plea is rejected. I have had my blood pressure spike to uncontrollable highs, when arrogant prosecutors attempt to ram a plea deal down the throats of the accused and hold over the accused head the hammer that if “you go to trial and lose” the maximum sentence is what the judge will give you. Those accused of crimes and facing criminal charges need to understand that the reality of Florida State Attorneys and Judges who “are penalizing the accused through sentencing tactics for exercising their right to a trail” is on the rise. Hiring an aggressive, educated, seasoned and trial battled tested criminal lawyer is your best bet to prevent injustices from happening to you for exercising your rights under the Constitution. Criminal Defense Attorney Andrew D. Stine is the mountain that stands between you and the prosecutor and assures that the Constitutional Rights of the accused are protected and enforced in the criminal courtroom.

Recently, a Florida Judge was caught on the record, meaning the recording of the courtroom, speaking about why the judge was giving a harsher sentence to a criminal defendant and the reason: The Defendant Exercised His Right Under The Constitution to a Jury Trial. The proof was caught on tape! This ongoing problem of judges handing out harsher sentences for criminal defendant’s exercising their right to a trial is especially true if the sitting judge was a former prosecutor. The oppressor’s heart of being a prosecutor does stop oppressing because you matriculate through appointment into being a Judge. As a matter of fact, the oppressor’s heart only grows and does more harm at the judge level because power corrupts. The recent acts of a “Constitutional Vindictive” sentence was evident when a Florida Judge, sentenced a man to three (3) years in prison for a crime that only scored 16.5 months in prison pursuant to the sentencing guidelines. Here, the judge punished the man for exercising his right under the Sixth Amendment of the US Constitution by sentencing him outside the guidelines with an upward departure. The Appellate Court held on review that “the trial court’s comments indicate that the court based his sentence, at least in part, on his (defendant’s) failure to enter a plea. The Law of Florid and the United States is that “a defendant may never be subjected to a greater sentence because he exercised his right to trial.” Thus, the sentence and the Judge’s actions are Unconstitutional.

This chilling effect that a judge has on a community, who more harshly punishes those who exercise their Constitutional Rights, is not worthy to sit on a park bench let alone a seat on the Judicial Bench. Prosecutors will undoubtedly use these judicial unconstitutional acts, like this judge, in their plea negotiations to force the pleas down the throats of those accused of a crime, with the threat that if the accused does not take the “plea” and loses at trial, you will be going away for a very long time, as opposed to the lighter sentence that is being offer to the accused without a trial. Do not get bullied around by the government. Florida’s number one Criminal Defense Attorney Andrew D. Stine has been standing tall in defense of those accused of a criminal act for well over a decade and is harden from trial battles. If you need a criminal defense lawyer who will not back down, who will protect your rights to a trial by jury and who will assure that you are not punished harsher for exercising you right to a trial by jury, then contact West Palm Beach Criminal Trial Lawyer Andrew D. Stine. Hire Stine or do the Time.

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