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The Differences Between Criminal Courts in The United States and Mexico

The Differences Between Criminal Courts in The United States and Mexico
Axelrod & Associates, P.A.

Are criminal courts different in the United States and in Mexico?

If you have been arrested in Myrtle Beach, SC and this is your first experience with the criminal justice system in the United States, you may be feeling confused, unsure of what your next steps should be and who you can trust.

Below, we’ll talk about some of the differences between criminal courts in the United States and in Mexico, including:

  • The role of criminal defense attorneys in the United States and in Mexico,
  • The role of judges in criminal courts in the United States and in Mexico,
  • Your right to a jury trial and
  • The differences between criminal procedure in the courts of the United States and Mexico.

If you have been charged with a crime in Myrtle Beach, SC, call Axelrod & Associates now at 843-258-4478 to find out how we can help you. Whether his home country is Mexico, Honduras, or another Latin American or South American country, we understand his unique concerns and have Spanish-speaking staff available to answer his call.

The Role Of Criminal Defense Lawyers In The Courts Of The United States And Mexico

In the criminal courts of the United States, you have the right to a defense attorney. If you can afford to hire a lawyer, you have the right to a defense attorney of your choice. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, the court will appoint a public defender.

Although you also have the right to a defense attorney if you are arrested in Mexico, your Myrtle Beach, SC criminal defense attorney can accomplish more for you, including:

  • Ask the Court to set reasonable bond and release you until your trial date,
  • Investigate the facts of your case, locate favorable witnesses, and collect evidence that may prove your innocence,
  • Question the police officer under oath at a probable cause hearing,
  • File pretrial motions to dismiss your case or to suppress evidence in your case, ask the court for hearings on your motions, call witnesses at your motions hearings, and cross-examine the state’s witnesses,
  • Take your case to a jury if your charges are not resolved before trial, and
  • File any necessary appeals if you are convicted at trial.

You should hire a criminal defense lawyer in the United States immediately after you are arrested or as soon as you know that you are being investigated by the police. He does not answer questions or give statements to police or prosecutors until he has met with his criminal defense attorney.

The Role Of Judges In The Criminal Courts Of The United States And Mexico

Judges in Mexico are often seen as having a prosecutorial role: once the prosecutor hands over the case, judges can conduct their own investigation, review evidence and statements provided by police and prosecutors, and then decide their guilt or innocence, often without hearing live witnesses.

Judges in the United States, on the other hand, are supposed to be neutral decision makers, who will make decisions about how the law applies to your case based on the motions and arguments of the prosecution and your defense attorney. They will decide:

  • If there was probable cause for your arrest,
  • If your constitutional rights were violated,
  • If the evidence should be excluded from your trial,
  • Motions and objections made by the prosecutor and his defense attorney,
  • What laws should apply to your case,
  • The procedure at your trial, and
  • Your punishment if a jury finds you guilty or if you plead guilty to the charges.

At your trial, the facts (including whether or not you are guilty) are decided by a 12-person jury, while the law is decided by the judge.

Do Undocumented Immigrants Have Constitutional Rights In The United States?

Any person who is in the United States and is subject to the jurisdiction of our courts has constitutional rights, even if the person is not a citizen of the United States. These rights include:

  • The right to the effective assistance of a lawyer,
  • The right to remain silent, not to answer questions from the police, and to have a defense attorney present if you are questioned,
  • The right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures – if the police want to arrest you or search your home, they must first show that they have probable cause that a crime was committed,
  • The right to testify in your own defense,
  • The right to call witnesses or documents in your defense,
  • Freedom of expression – for example, you cannot be arrested for criticizing the government or the police,
  • The right to a jury trial – although you can choose to have a judge decide your case, you have the absolute right to a jury of 12 citizens who will decide whether or not you are guilty, and
  • The right to proof beyond a reasonable doubt before you can be convicted of a crime – the highest legal standard in criminal courts anywhere in the world.

In some cases, evidence may be excluded from your trial because the police violated your rights. For example, if the police find drugs in your car when they did not have probable cause to search your car, the drugs will be excluded and your case could be dismissed.

Or, if the police questioned you without first telling you that you have the right to a lawyer (called Miranda rights), any statement you make could be excluded from your trial.

The Differences Between The Criminal Procedure In The Courts Of The United States And Mexico

There are many differences between the criminal procedures of the courts of the United States and Mexico. For example:

  • Trial : Trials in Mexico can consist of a series of hearings, while trials in the United States are a single event that can last from one day to several weeks. Separate pretrial hearings may be held to determine whether evidence should be suppressed or to decide other legal issues before the trial begins.
  • Live Testimony : In Mexico, witness testimony is often presented to the court in the form of written testimony or statements. In the United States, living witnesses must testify under oath to prove the charges against you or your defenses. In most situations, the court will not consider written testimony at your trial.
  • Live arguments : In Mexico, your lawyer and the prosecutor can present their arguments to the court in writing. In the United States, your attorney and the prosecutor can file written motions with the court, but they will generally argue those motions in person and will always present arguments in person to the jury at your trial.
  • Jury trials : In the United States you have the right to a jury trial (12 common people). In Mexico, your case is decided by a single judge or a panel of three judges.
  • Delays : In both countries, cases can drag on for years before a trial is scheduled. In the United States, however, you have a constitutional right to a speedy trial, and your attorney can, when it is in your best interest, file motions that will expedite the process. Verdicts are returned by the jury immediately at the end of the trial.

Do You Have Axelrod?

If you have been charged with a crime or believe you are under investigation, contact a Spanish-speaking criminal defense attorney immediately, before speaking to police or prosecutors.

Call Axelrod & Associates now at 843-258-4478 or email us to speak with a Myrtle Beach, SC criminal defense attorney today.

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