Week three was full of more misdemeanor trials, which are minor crimes that are punishable by a fine and/or up to a year in the county jail. Misdemeanors are distinguished from felonies in that a person charged with a felony may be sent to prison. A lot of the misdemeanor trials I saw were for DUIs and for possession of controlled substances. One thing I learned is that possession of meth, cocaine, and heroine are all felonies. –Meth definitely seemed to be the most popular drug for the people that came in with drug charges. 99% of these drug cases and misdemeanor cases ended up being guilty pleas, meaning the defendants simply plead guilty and faced the consequences. Although each defendant’s attorney is required to read them their rights before agreeing to sign the paperwork and plead guilty, the judge must still review the defendant’s rights with them so that there is proof on the record. The judge makes sure each defendant knows that they have the right to a jury trial, that they are not under any medication that may interfere with their ability to understand their situation, that they knows they are incriminating themselves and have the right not to do so, that they signed the paperwork forwarded to him themselves, and finally that they are willingly, knowingly, and intelligently making the decision to plead guilty. The judge goes over the same rights with each defendant making a guilty plea so this definitely gets repetitive, however it’s the only way to make sure every defendant is getting fair and equal treatment.
The Catlin Gabel School
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