What Do You Do if You Are on Trial for a Crime in Louisiana?
If a criminal case proceeds to trial in Louisiana, the defendants have the right to adequate legal representation. Following the Louisiana Judiciary Rules, the court meets with both sides at the pre-trial conference to resolve issues before the case goes to trial. The prosecutors may also offer a plea bargain to the defendant. Defendants may negotiate a plea offer with state prosecutors, and both sides may reach an agreement.
What Percentage of Criminal Cases go to Trial in Louisiana?
The 2018 Annual Report published by the Supreme Court of Louisiana states that there were 646,747 filings in the district courts. There were 145,931 criminal cases included in the total number of cases filed during the year. The court reported that 436 criminal cases were disposed of by jury trial which made up about 0.07% of the total number of criminal cases.
When Does a Criminal Defendant Have the Right to a Trial?
Under the Louisiana constitution, §16 of Article 1 states that individuals charged with a crime are innocent until proven guilty. Hence, such individuals are entitled to a fair and speedy public trial in the parish where the offense(s) occurred. Louisiana trials ensure accused persons have the privilege to cross-examine the witnesses against them, compel witnesses’ attendance, and present a defense in their case. During a criminal case, a plea bargain may be offered to the prosecutor to resolve the criminal case before it goes to trial. The negotiation occurs during the pre-trial conference stage, and if both sides fail to reach an agreement, a trial commences. However, the state’s legislature can enact a law that instructs a trial court that a governor is empowered to pardon accused persons or lessen their sentences in criminal cases.
What are the Stages of a Criminal Trial in Louisiana?
The stages of a criminal trial in Louisiana include:
- Jury Selection
- Opening Statements
- Presentation of Witnesses and Evidence
- Closing Arguments
- Jury Instructions
- Jury Deliberation
- Pre-sentence Report
- Sentence Hearing
How Long Does it Take For a Case to Go to Trial in Louisiana?
In Louisiana, the period it takes for a case to move from the arraignment to trial depends on the charges brought against the defendant. Article 578 of the Code of Criminal Procedure gives three years between indictment of prosecution and trial commencement for cases. Trial for felony cases can occur within two years from indictment and a year for misdemeanors. However, if a motion for a speedy trial is filed, the trial for an incarcerated defendant charged with a felony shall begin within one hundred twenty days. If the defendants are not in custody, the trial commences within one hundred eighty days. Upon filing for a motion for a speedy trial, the trial for defendants charged with misdemeanors shall occur within thirty days if they are in custody and sixty days if they are not in custody.
What Happens When a Court Case Goes to Trial in Louisiana?
Jury selection: In Louisiana, a defendant only has the right to bench trial for misdemeanor charges. Persons charged with felony offenses may either face a bench trial or a jury trial. For capital offenses, twelve jurors preside over the case, and a unanimous verdict must be reached. Other felony criminal cases are tried before a jury of six persons.
Opening Statements: This is the first statement made by each party to give a preview of the case and some insight into what the bench or jury should expect.
Presentation of Witnesses and Evidence: Each side presents evidence and witnesses that may help their arguments. The opposing party also cross-examines witnesses.
Closing Arguments: Each party concludes their argument with a final statement that buttresses their earlier points and tries to convince the jury/judge.
Jury Instructions: These are a set of instructions given to the jury by the judge to help them understand their duties in reaching a verdict on the case.
Jury Deliberation: The jurors have a private meeting to reach a verdict. The time used in the process usually depends on the type of case. All twelve jurors must concur on a judgment in criminal cases with capital punishments.
Verdict: This is the unanimous agreement reached by the jury in a trial.
Sentencing: If the defendant is found guilty at trial, the judge sentences the defendant based on the case’s facts and the punishment for the charges.
Can you be Put on Trial Twice for the Same Crime in Louisiana?
No, §15 of Article 1 in Louisiana’s constitution protects individuals from being placed in jeopardy twice for the same crime. However, if there is a mistrial, such individuals can apply for another trial on the same offense. A mistrial usually occurs when a jury cannot concur on a verdict. The court concludes that the defendant lacks the mental capacity to proceed with the case or a legal defect in the trial proceedings.
How Do I Lookup a Criminal Court Case in Louisiana?
Individuals can obtain information on criminal court cases from the clerk of the court where the filing occurred. The Louisiana Clerks of Court Association site provides an online directory containing the clerk’s contact information and address. Individuals can also select a particular parish or court that a criminal case was filed. Alternatively, interested persons can also visit third-party websites such as Louisianacourtrecords.us and provide the required details to lookup desired criminal court cases.
How to Access Electronic Court Records in Louisiana?
Persons looking to access court records in Louisiana online can visit the state’s judiciary site and select the court where the case proceedings occurred. Querying parties can choose the desired court by their judicial district and use the available case search tool. Individuals should note that they may not have access to confidential court records on electronic platforms.
How Do I Remove Public Court Records in Louisiana?
Interested individuals may expunge or seal public court records if they are eligible under the Louisiana statutes. The process of expunging court records makes such records unavailable to the general public for copying and inspection. To expunge misdemeanor related court records, persons can petition if it has been five years since completing the sentence, probation, or parole. Eligibility for felony offense records includes if the conviction was set aside and the persecution dismissed, or more than ten years have passed since the individual completed the sentence. To get public court records sealed, interested individuals can obtain the appropriate expungement form and file it at the court where the case proceedings occurred. A judge reviews the petition and grants or denies it.