We have discussed the three major branches of government. That is just scratching the surface. Our government is large and complex. In an attempt to understand it a little more, we will dive into the judicial branch and learn about judicial process.
What is the Judicial Process?
The judicial process guarantees that everyone is treated equally and is given their fair day in court. The same process must be followed for everyone, regardless of the circumstances or the crime. Article III of the constitution states that every person has the right to a fair trial before a competent judge and a jury of one’s peers. That is just the beginning of the rights dictated by the judicial process.
Now we are going to start talking about amendments. If this is getting a little boring, try and stick with us. This could matter to you one day! The Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments all provide protection to those individuals who have been accused of a crime. These rights are extensive, and include the right to legal representation, the right to a speedy trail, the right to avoid self-incrimination, and the right to cross-examine witnesses. These rights are given to accused individuals in both federal and state proceedings.
Once a trial has begun, it is the prosecutions job to attempt to prove guilt. Defendants do not have to prove anything. The standard for evidence in criminal proceedings is “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” A unanimous jury of a defendant’s peers must vote together and agree that a defendant is indeed “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is slightly different in civil proceedings where the standard requires “a preponderance of evidence.” Civil proceedings can be decided by a judge, rather than a jury. In criminal proceedings, it is the judge’s job to sentence following a guilty verdict.