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Understanding the Right to a Fair Trial


If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, you should know you have several rights. One of your rights as a criminal defendant is the right to a fair trial. In New York, as in the rest of the U.S., the right to a fair trial is a vital legal protection. As a criminal defendant, it is crucial that you understand this right. Understanding this right can enable you to navigate the legal process more effectively. Generally, fair trials are meant to ensure defendants are treated fairly or justly in the criminal justice system. They are meant to limit abuse by governments and state authorities.

Constitutional Provisions That Protect the Right to a Fair Trial

The Constitution of America does not explicitly state that as a criminal defendant, you have the “right to a fair trial.” However, numerous provisions in the Constitution protect your right to a fair trial. The following are some of these provisions;

The 6th Amendment

The Sixth Amendment has a number of provisions that contribute to ensuring a fair trial. As a criminal defendant, the 6th Amendment gives you the right to a speedy and public trial. It guarantees you the right to an attorney and to be informed about the criminal charges you are facing and the evidence against you. Additionally, under this Amendment, you are entitled to an impartial jury and the right to confront witnesses. The right to a speedy trial prevents prolonged pretrial detention. This right requires that your trial be conducted promptly without undue delay. It ensures that trials are open to members of the public and conducted transparently. An impartial jury is generally made of unbiased, fair-minded, and open-minded individuals. An impartial jury comprises people with no preconceived notions, prejudices, or biases that could impact their ability to objectively assess the evidence presented in your case. Finally, the right to confront witnesses ensures you have the chance to face and cross-examine the people who testify against you in court.

The 4th and 14th Amendments

The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution guarantee criminal defendants the right to due process of law. The 4th and 14th Amendments state that it is against the law to deprive a person of liberty, life, or property without due process of law. This right prevents the government from infringing on your legal rights indiscriminately without a proper procedure. This right is broad and includes several rights. It requires that the government respect all your legal rights as a criminal defendant.

Presumption of Innocence

A vital aspect of a fair trial in the U.S. is the presumption of innocence. This principle places the burden of proof on the prosecutor. It is up to the prosecutor to demonstrate that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The presumption of innocence protects you from baseless accusations and prevents prejudicial treatment before the completion of your trial.

Contact an NYC Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges in New York, our skilled NYC criminal attorney, Mark I. Cohen, may be able to help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss your case.

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"... Mr. Cohen's effort... in everything he has done before the Court, is A-Plus... [R]ecently, in another case... [before me], the result he achieved for his client... was quite impressive." Honorable Kenneth M. Karas, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York.


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"As Mark Cohen, a defense lawyer who has tried cases throughout the city and was a prosecutor in the Bronx, pointed out, there is a saying among defense lawyers in New York." – As provided in the New York Times City Room Blog.

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